What is Traditional Neighborhood Development?

Last week we covered why Traditional Neighborhood Development is important to our communities and why Stevens & Associates finds it valuable as a practice. This week, we’ll being our look at what TND actually isand how to do it.Let’s start with a list—each of these items will be covered in depth, with examples, in future weeks.

Compact, Mixed-Use Development: Think Main Street USA, with multi-story buildings that house apartments and offices over storefronts and restaurants.

Minimum Residential Density: How many residential units (houses or apartments) per acre. The sweet spot is somewhere between 4 and 30 units per acre, depending on the neighborhood.

Narrower Front Setbacks: Essentially, putting houses closer to the road and sidewalks.

Greater Front Setbacks for Garages: To get houses closer to the road, you have to put garages farther from the road (a bigger setback).

“In-Scale” Building Design: Pedestrians tend to gravitate to buildings that are smaller and human-sized. Think townhouse, not skyscraper.

Orientation of Buildings to the Street: Main Streets with street-facing storefronts, residential neighborhoods with porches and front doors make a big difference in how an area feels to residents.

Walkable Street Patterns: Basically, creating a network of streets that get people—pedestrians—from one place to another. Not cul-de-sacs, dead ends, and circuitous routes.

Village-Style Roadway Design: The streets in most New England villages and towns are narrow, designed for the slower traffic of a horse-and-buggy era. TND suggests keeping them that way to make them more pedestrian friendly.

Pedestrian Amenities: Sidewalk width, lighting, benches, and street landscaping all contribute to an enjoyable pedestrian experience and encourage residents to walk.

Design and Landscaping of Parking Lots: Putting parking lots behind or beside buildings, instead of in front, makes more room streetside for pedestrians.

Public Parks, Town Greens, and Village Squares: Our communities need gathering spaces, and have traditionally provided them with central squares and greens. These gathering spaces are critical to creating a sense of community in a place.