Should there be …… A NEW DEFINITION OF URBAN AND URBAN BOUNDARY ?

‘Urban’  is  defined   in different ways depending on who is defining it. In Malaysia the 2010 Population and Housing Census by the Department of Statistics , Malaysia (DOS)  defined  urban as follows:

Gazetted areas with their  adjoining built-up areas which had  a combined   population of 10,000 persons or more at the time of 2010 Census .’

OR

Specific development areas that can be identified and are separated from any gazetted or built – up area by more than 5 km and has a population  of at least 10,000 persons,  with 60% ( aged 15 years and above ) engaged  in non- agricultural activities .’

The Town & Country Planning Department (TCPD)  also has its own definition of urban as  mentioned  in the National Urbanisation Policy document . The TCPD defined urban as:

‘ Gazetted areas with their adjacent built – up and consolidated areas located within the urban limits including:

  • Settlement and committed areas that have been approved;
  • Minimum population 10,000 people;
  • At least 60 % of population are employed ( 15 years and above) in non –agricultural activities;
  • Estimated population density of 50-60 persons per hectar;
  • Urban amenities
  • A District Administrative Centre  ( if its population less than 10,000 people)

The two definitions are similar as the definition by the TCPD had taken into account the definition of urban by the DOS  in the 2000 Population and Housing Census.The  additional criteria such as density and urban amenities are extensions to the DOS definition. Even though the definitions by the two agencies are quite similar, they translate the urban boundary  in  different way  in accordance to  their needs .  The DOS urban boundaries were based on the Enumeration Blocks (EBs) for census. The TCPD in its Urban Profile Study (UPS) used the following criteria to determine the urban boundary for planning and development control purposes.

i.       The national and local policies

ii.       Population

iii.     Main land-use trends

iv.     Accessibility

The urban definition by the DOS and the TPCD might lead to confusion to agencies involved in planning, formulation and implementation of government policies and programs as to which definition of urban to be used.  Therefore, it is timely for Malaysia to redefine  urban   and adopt one  definition to be used  officially.

Correspondingly, after taking into account of the DOS and TCPD definitions, it is recommended that the new definition is as follows:

Urban area is a ‘Gazetted areas with their adjoining built – up areas and within the urban limits including:

  • Settlement and committed areas that have been approved;
  • Minimum population 10,000 people;
  • At least 60 % of population are employed ( 15 years and above) in non –agricultural activities;
  • Estimated population density of 50-60 persons per hectar;
  • Urban amenities ( refer to the Urban Profile Study); and
  • A District Administrative Centre  ( if its population less than 10,000 people)

OR

Specific development areas that can be identified and are separated from any gazetted or built – up area by more than 5 km and had a population  of at least 10,000 persons, with 60% ( aged 15 years and above ) engaged  in non- agricultural activities.’

Redefinition of urban should be followed with the preparation of a National Urban Boundary Plan. The urban boundaries formed under UPS ( presently covered only Peninsula Malaysia)  is physical by nature and DOS urban boundaries  are based on EBs . As such the National Urban Boundaries should be the coordination of all urban boundaries derived from UPS and EB boundaries. For the purpose of preparing the National Urban Boundary Plan, the present UPS that covers only Peninsula Malaysia needs to be extended to Sabah and Sarawak.

Air your comment on the suggested new definition of urban and urban boundary!

By: Datin Marhamah binti Ab.Ghaffar, National Physical Planning Division

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3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Super-Moderator said,

    August 16, 2013 @ 11:35 am

    The fundamental weakness of the urban definition by the DOS is that it is based on a “gazetted area” which if that doesn’t equate to a local authority area as defined under Act 171 is, at worse, a Town Board area. The point is that a “gazetted area” can contain huge areas of a rural character which is not what is expected of an “urban area” thus it is best to avoid reference to a “gazetted area”. An “urban area” should contain basic urban amenities for that area to function as an urban area, thus, it’s best to determine what these basic urban amenities and population threshold are and be delineated accordingly.

  2. 2

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    September 18, 2013 @ 4:42 pm

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    » Should there be …… A NEW DEFINITION OF URBAN AND URBAN BOUNDARY ?

  3. 3

    UkrainianMusicalEnsembles said,

    March 13, 2014 @ 9:04 am

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    » Should there be …… A NEW DEFINITION OF URBAN AND URBAN BOUNDARY ?

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