Thesis – Chapter 2 Planning Today: 2.4 New Urbanism
As with every trend, another trend always comes along that is a reaction to what does not seem to be working in the current mode. New Urbanism is a return to the traditional neighborhood development values that had naturally evolved and enabled Community, before zoning effectively disconnected us from our work, from cultural and class diversity, and from each other.
What is new about New Urbanism is its totality. It attempts to promote a sort of unified design theory for an entire region from small scale (building block, street) through the intermediate scale (corridor, neighborhood, district) to the large scale (regional infrastructure and ecology). Although many of its ideas may seem obvious and old hat, the particular combination and orchestration of them are new. Also fresh, is the New Urbanist insistence that the physical placemaking must be carefully and thoroughly linked to public policy (Kelbaugh, 2002).
Tied closely to the New Urbanist movement is the application of principles of Smart Growth. These principles are the specific reaction to those elements that are not working properly to sustain human growth and happiness in the current mode of planning.
Smart Growth Principles: (Frumpkin, Frank, Jackson, 2004, p. 204)
- Mix land uses
- Take advantage of compact building design
- Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
- Create walkable neighborhoods
- Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place
- Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environment areas
- Strengthen and direct development toward existing communities
- Provide a range of transportation choices
- Make development decisions predictable, fair and cost effective.
- Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions
All of these principles promote community and emphasize the well-being of the inhabitants.
Although new Urbanism has changed the design, planning, and development debate in America, it has had a modest effect in slowing down sprawl. The vast majority of growth in the United States still manifests itself as a carpet of conventional cul-de-sac sprawl (Kelbaugh, 2002).
There are tradeoffs with any vision, and New Urbanism has its dangers to be sure. Not everyone will benefit. However, on balance, it offers a much more promising future than business as usual (Kelbaugh, 2002).