In Nigeria, the urban expansion debate has closely paralleled urban growth trends over the past few decades. Many studies indicate that it is the pattern, density, and rate of new urban growth that create the appearance of expansion. Population dynamics are often cited as a driving force behind urban expansion. This thesis uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping and land cover change analysis, neighborhood statistics, community surveying, key-informant interviews with planners and developers, and planning documents to measure expansion. The study area includes the jurisdictions that comprise the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) of Akure of Ondo. Urban land cover increased by one-fourth, from approximately 559 square kilometers to approximately 746 square kilometers from 1999 to 2019. 

This study analyzes urban land cover data as well as interviews with local developers and planning documentation to understand development trends in Richmond from 1999 to 2019. These dates reflect the availability of National Land Cover Data (NLCD), which I reclassified in the GIS to show only those classes that represent urbanized land. I then compared the two years to show the level of urban growth over the nine year time period. Next, I analyze patterns of urban expansion by using mapping capabilities within the GIS and neighborhood statistics in order to show the density and connectivity of patches of new growth. Based on the density and connectivity of new growth areas, I classify patterns as one of three types of expansion: linear along highways, cluster, and leapfrog. My threshold densities are; 0 to 400 30 meter pixels per square kilometer for low density, 401 to 700 for medium density, and 701 to 1200 for high density. I also interviewed local developers and planners to gauge their opinions on the issue of urban expansion versus urban growth. Developers do not see themselves as contributors to expansion while planners see their roles as buffers between unfettered growth and market forces. The results indicate that Ondo MSA did experience an increase in urban land from 1999 to 2019 and that urban growth in the study area can be classified as urban expansion with the use of GIS mapping, neighborhood statistics, and analysis of jurisdictional planning documentation coupled with interviews with developers, land owners, and local planners. The density of new development is greatest in VI and Akure, but the pattern and character with which development has occurred in Idomuta Ondo is synonymous with expansion. Expansion is also facilitated by inexpensive land with available infrastructure (water, sewer lines).



1.1 Background of Study

The Urban Expansion Debate

As urban development takes place within Nigerian cities and around their fringes, urban expansion or the lack thereof will continue to be a by-product of development practices and policies. Population increases and the consequences of unplanned urbanization are directly related to recent growth management practices that seek to influence the way in which built-up land can proliferate. The pattern, density, and rate at which built-up land develops are the basis for one contemporary debate: urban expansion versus urban growth. As a contemporary planning issue, the debate over expansion is framed by different disciplines and their understanding of how and why urban areas grow. Although urban expansion is a type of urban growth, expansion is dependent on the way in which development occurs.