Following World War II, the United States also suburbanized based on the widespread availability of personal transportation, and the highway system. Population centers then detached from jobs and commercial centers.
It either was a serious lack of planning, or seriously short sided planning, but either way it was a great mistake. Either way it meant a massive and unnecessary usage of natural resources.
We should not wait until we are forced by global disaster, and a crumbling economy built on non-renewable energy resources. We can right the mistake of decentralization into suburbs with smart and innovative planning, but there are many tough issues we must address.