One of the major issues in the urban development process in the developing world, not least in Nigeria, is the implication of land use developments and planning for environmental sustainability. Land use planning has an impact on the efficiency of economic and social activities and also on the physical development of a city. However, in several developing countries, such as Nigeria, the inadequacy of urban land development and planning has led to concerns regarding the environmental sustainability of the urban centres. To understand the contemporary urban land use pattern in Nigeria and its shortcomings, it is important to examine the characteristics of past and present land use structure, the planning framework and imperatives for the future of urban development in the country. Among other things, the paper argues that the traditional urban planning framework, its administration, and the associated master planning which still dominate planning in Nigeria, have less than adequately ensured environmental sustainability. Emphasis is placed on residential land use. It is argued that the planning system, which is essentially a colonial legacy, does not adequately respond to evolving changes in cultural, economic and social developments and, hence, the spatial impact on residential land use.