Urban Land Policies and their Effects on the Physical Development of Isfahan City, Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Professor of Geography and Urban Planning, Faculty of Geography, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 PhD Candidate in Geography and Urban Planning, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


Isfahan is one of the ancient cities of Iran and its history dates back to thousands years ago. Before 1921 (1300 SH) the growth and development of the city was very slow and it had still a proportional and organic relationship with its neighboring villages. After 1921, however, the urban growth of the city was relatively slow and the first urban planning projects as construction of streets were conducted and the traditional form of the city was changed. 
In recent decades, the population of Isfahan, like many other cities of Iran, is quickly increased. According to Statistical Center of Iran, the population increased from 254708 in 1956 to 1908968 in 2011, i.e., more than seven times the value during the half century of 1956-2011. The undesirable consequences of population growth destructed gardens and countryside’s farms. This led also to formation of suburb settlements. 
The purpose of this present research is to examine urban land policies and its effects on Isfahan urban physical development. The main issue is the study and analysis of imbalance between urban land policies and development goals of urban comprehensive plan of Isfahan, especially after Islamic revolution. Therefore, the failures and problems are the methods of performing comprehensive plans that influence urban land policies on the city’s physical development. 
This study is a basic-applied research performed using a descriptive-analytical method. The Isfahan’s city as the study area was examined by the methods. The data were collected through studying available texts and documents and internet sites. Other sources of information were interviews with the experts of urban development and urban practitioners and workshops professionals. The urban development map was prepared using aerial photos of Isfahan city and urban maps. The data were analyzed quantitatively using SPSS, Excel and ArcGIS.   
Results and discussion  
The comparison of Gross Urban land per capita of Isfahan city and gross density of population during 1956-2011 shows that except for 1956 the gross urban land per capita was higher than population density of the city. However, this does not mean that all citizens enjoyed urban utilities the same way, instead, it means the excessive supply of land, especially in 1996 the urban gross per capita was at the highest point.   
The process of Isfahan urban expansion and physical development (1921-2011) revealed that the extent of the city during the last 90 years has increased by 12 times. If it is calculated by its extent in 2006, before Khorasgan being merged with legal limits of Isfahan, it will be found that the city has expanded by11 times. The slow development of the city during 1923-1956 can be observed in figure 2. Since 1965, especially following land reforms and the implementation of development plans,   the development trend has been increased. Thus, the city was extended around 4.5 times by 1956. Following Islamic revolution of 1979, until 1996, the the extent of the city increased considerably. This was the result of the urban policies made after revolution and the lands assigned.  After 1997 and due to the policies adopted by the seventh administration, i.e. the policy of adjustment of land assignment, the trend experienced a decrease. 
According to the aerial photos and urban maps, it can be found that during the mentioned period, the city has developed in all directions. Indeed, the development is much significant in the North, Northwest, West and Southwest parts of the city (Eastern development of Isfahan in 2013 was occurred as Khorasgan merged with Isfahan). This kind of development transformed many of the gardens and farm lands around the cities into urban and residential areas. Therefore, regarding the fast development of Isfahan during the last decades, a definite border for Isfahan cannot be explicitly defined; instead it should be called urban region or metropolis of Isfahan as merged with surrounding suburbs.
Following development of cities, the policies of urban land and the way they were implemented has gained importance. It is because the land is the basis for urban development and the main factor in the formation and development of cities. It should, however, be considered that growth and development of cities without control and a comprehensive plan will result in undesirable economic, social and cultural consequences. But this doesn’t mean the negligence of inadequacies observed in comprehensive plans (whether in study or performance phases). Instead, it is necessary to overcome weaknesses of comprehensive plans. In this way the development and expansion of cities will be controllable, schedulable, as well as predictable. By presenting a model, a comprehensive plan should predict future conditions, especially the physical development of the city. On the other hand, the urban land policies should be so accurately designed that achieve the development goals of comprehensive plans and prevent the excessive growth of the cities. Therefore, this present research wants to evaluate and analyze comprehensive plans and how they influence the physical development of Isfahan.
The results of the studies performed in Isfahan show that in one hand the weaknesses of performing comprehensive plans (especially organic comprehensive plan) and inconsistency in urban land policies with development goals of these plans (especially after Islamic revolution) to examine the excessive growth of the Isfahan city.


Main Subjects

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