Design of Future City Neighbourhoods

November 21, 2008 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

In the battle over how London grows, combat reached the street level last night as politicians, developers and planners fought over the design of future city neighbourhoods.

The city’s planning committee was split down the middle, leaving the crucial issue to council when it meets next Monday.

When it comes to designing subdivisions, city hall has made sure the streets drain and the toilets flush — but that’s not enough, city planner John Fleming said. “Really what we’re talking about is the soul of the community,” Fleming said.

He’s calling for guidelines that:

– Integrate natural features such as hills and trees rather than bulldoze them.
– Design streets to promote walking and cycling rather than the use of automobiles.
– Reject cookie-cutter housing and instead use a mix of styles, sizes and building densities to attract a broader range of dwellers.
– Create public spaces that are easily accessed and enjoyed.
– Consider the pros and cons of grid-like streets, overnight parking and rear laneways that clear streets of garages and driveways.

For three years, city planners have tried to change what they called the culture of development — but it was clear yesterday their effort has fallen short with some. “As a group, (developers) don’t embrace change all that readily,” said Rob Panzer, the city’s general manager of planning.

The London Development Institute asked council to delay action until city hall spells out how new designs will be engineered and at what cost — a request planners fear would further delay implementation. “We think it’s a good idea, but it will take a lot of work to get there,” said Steve Janes, president of the development institute. No action should be considered until January when the city implements a new process meant to streamline development applications, he said. Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen warned the new guidelines could drive up housing prices. “Once we go down this road, is the conventional subdivision dead?” he asked. Coun. Roger Caranci agreed, saying developers were the city’s “biggest partner” since they invest the resources and risk their futures on new subdivisions. “It behooves us to listen to the group that is most affected,” he said. Coun. Nancy Branscombe sees it differently — starting with whom she sees as her partner. “My biggest partners are the citizens I represent.” Branscombe accused Caranci, Van Meerbergen and Controller Bud Polhill of “stalling” the process. “We’re so far behind other municipalities,” she said. Developers say Londoners don’t want the new design elements, but city staff point to a survey that found most wanted them even if it meant paying a “slight premium.”


Source: London Free Press


Entry filed under: London. Tags: , , .

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We are an urban design blog featuring news stories and ideas from London, Waterloo Region, and surrounding areas.


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