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Principles of urban planning
Elements of New Urbanism
According to Duany and Plater-Zyberk, the heart of New Urbanism is in the design of neighborhoods, which can be defined by thirteen elements:
- The neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.
- Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 1/4 mile or 1,320 feet (0.4 km).
- There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, rowhouses, and apartments — so that younger and older people, singles, and families, the poor, and the wealthy may find places to live.
- At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.
- A small ancillary building or garage apartment is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (for example, an office or craft workshop).
- An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.
- There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling — not more than a tenth of a mile away.
- Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
- The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
- Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.
- Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.
- Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.
- The neighborhood is organized to be self-governing. A formal association debates and decides matters of maintenance, security, and physical change. Taxation is the responsibility of the larger community.
Elements of Smart Growth
Compact, livable urban neighborhoods attract more people and business. Creating such neighborhoods is a critical element of reducing urban sprawl and protecting the climate. Such a tactic includes adopting redevelopment strategies and zoning policies that channel housing and job growth into urban centers and neighborhood business districts, to create compact, walkable, and bike- and transit-friendly hubs. This sometimes requires local governmental bodies to implement code changes that allow increased height and density downtown and regulations that not only eliminate minimum parking requirements for new development but establish a maximum number of allowed spaces. Other topics fall under this concept:
- mixed-use development
- inclusion of affordable housing
- restrictions or limitations on suburban design forms (e.g., detached houses on individual lots, strip malls and surface parking lots)
- inclusion of parks and recreation areas
Transit-oriented development (TOD) is a residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and mixed-use/compact neighborhoods tend to use transit at all times of the day. Many cities striving to implement better TOD strategies seek to secure funding to create new public transportation infrastructure and improve existing services. Other measures might include regional cooperation to increase efficiency and expand services, and moving buses and trains more frequently through high-use areas. Other topics fall under this concept:
- Transportation Demand Management measures
- road pricing system (tolling)
- commercial parking taxes
Pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly design
Biking and walking instead of driving can reduce emissions, save money on fuel and maintenance, and foster a healthier population. Pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly improvements include bike lanes on main streets, an urban bike-trail system, bike parking, pedestrian crossings, and associated master plans. The most pedestrian- and bike-friendly variant of smart growth and New Urbanism is New Pedestrianism because motor vehicles are on a separate grid.
- preserving open space and critical habitat, reusing land, and protecting water supplies and air quality
- transparent, predictable, fair and cost-effective rules for development
- historic preservation
- Setting aside large areas where development is prohibited, nature is able to run its course, providing fresh air and clean water.
- Expansion around already existing areas allows public services to be located where people are living without taking away from the core city neighborhoods in large urban areas.
- Developing around preexisting areas decreases the socioeconomic segregation allowing society to function more equitably, generating a tax base for housing, educational and employment programs.
Urban planning and water
- Cost-effectiveness of rainwater tanks.
- Permeable pavements, permeable surfaces.
- Groundwater recharge