This study analyzed the impacts of land development policy on unplanned (informal) human settlement growth on agricultural land in Assiut Governorate, Egypt. A mixed-method approach to address two objectives was used. Firstly, Remote Sensing, Machine Learning and GIS was used to compare the land use development plans with settlement growth. Secondly, the study sought to understand stakeholders’ (i.e. government and civil society actors) perspectives about the driving forces of unplanned settlement growth. Successful aspects of the policy found were shifting from the master planning approach to a strategic planning approach, and reducing the growth rate after applying the strategic plans for villages, investing in new settlements in the hinterlands to relocate the surplus inhabitants. The policy core gaps were: underestimating the future population growth, which led to a higher growth rate than planned; not properly involving settlers in the plan development phase; lacking sufficient funds to achieve the targets of the plan; and, the bureaucracy that hinders approvals for plans and reacting to encroachments.