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SERC/Urban and Spatial Programme Discussion Paper

Spatial Costs in a Monocentric City (And Implications for Agglomeration)


Using water supply as a model for a wider range of infrastructure services, the effect of a negative exponential density gradient on distribution costs is investigated for four monocentric urban development scenarios: (a) Densification; (b) Dispersion; (c) Suburbanisation; and (d) Constant density. It is shown that economies of scale in production can be outweighed by diseconomies in distribution in cases (b) and (c), suggesting that the agglomeration benefits of infrastructure cannot be taken for granted. They depend as much on the effect of density on distribution costs as the effect of size on production costs.


Hugh B. Wenban-Smith

October 2009     Paper Number SERCDP0032

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