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Ribbon development means building houses along the routes of communications radiating from a human settlement. Such development generated great concern in the United Kingdom during the 1920s and the 1930s, as well as in numerous other countries.
Increasing motor car ownership meant that houses could be sold even if remote from shops and other services. It was attractive to developers because they did not have to waste money or plot space constructing roads.
The practice became seen as inefficient use of resources and a precursor to urban sprawl, meaning that a key aim for the United Kingdom's post-War planning system was to halt ribbon development. It led to the introduction of green belt policies.
Following the Industrial Revolution, ribbon development became prevalent along railway lines: predominantly in Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A good example of this was the deliberate promotion of Metroland along London's Metropolitan Railway. Similar evidence can be found from Long Island (where Frederick W Dunton bought much real estate to encourage New Yorkers to settle along the Long Island Railroad lines), Boston and across the American mid-west.
Such expansion of human settlement is now seen as positively helpful in the fight against environmental destruction caused by building along roads.
The resulting towns and cities are often difficult to service efficiently. Often, the first problems noticed by residents is traffic congestion as people compete to move along the narrow urban corridor while ever more people join the ribbon further along the corridor. Urban consolidation is often a solution to encourage growth towards a more compact urban form.
Ribbon development can also be compared with a linear village which is a village that grew along a transportation route, not as part of a city's expansion.
- MetroLand. Easyweb.easynet.co.uk (1933-07-01). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
- "Outer London and London beyond London - Drummond Robson makes the case for planning for town and country.". Archived from the original on 2011-07-15.
- Long Island Railroad History Page - The Dunton Archive. Dunton.org. Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
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- Railroads in the Midwest: Early Documents and Images (Knox College) : Home. Collections.carli.illinois.edu (1920-07-02). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.
- The Railroads: Expansion and Economic Transformation in the Midwest
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- [NGO Study] Blueprints for Sustainable Transportation in Central and Eastern Europe – CEE Bankwatch Network. Bankwatch.org (2005-06-06). Retrieved on 2010-11-11.