Friday, February 1, 2008

Another London Article

Since London got their new celebrity Planner, they seem to get a lot more attention paid to planning issues. Here's another article

Their new planner, Sean Galloway, debunked the top ten myths of urban design, and his responses are so good that we wanted to reprint them here just in case the London Free Press decided to take this article off its website. So here goes...

Here then, are Galloway's 10 myths, debunked;

10. It's all about front porches. Indeed, building more houses with front porches is important, but it's really about making friendly buildings and attractive street-scapes.

9. It wants to eliminate the back yard. Back yards are important for privacy, but urban design reminds us not to forget the front yard as a place of activity and usefulness.

8. It's all about density, density, density. It's about providing variety and diversity, allowing people to grow up in a single-family home, move to an apartment, then a townhouse, then back into a single- family home, then back into an apartment as their life progresses -- all in the same neighbourhood.

7. It expects everyone to walk everywhere. It's about providing friendly streets and sidewalks and public transit and other infrastructure to entice people to walk more. Nobody expects the car to be eliminated.

6. It is just about the rear laneway. London is fearful of the rear laneway (for reasons nobody is sure of, considering they are all over Old North and Old South, for example). Some can be unpleasant, but there are examples of attractive back alleys in new urbanist developments across North America. Not everyone wants a big house with a big back yard.

5. It will not fit into a "normal" person's lifestyle. What is normal? People may want to drive to the supermarket for the big shop, but do they want to get in the car and face traffic just to pick up a loaf of bread or litre of milk? People want options. They want variety in the kinds of buildings they interact with, variety that makes the experience of living in a community richer.

4. It is just It's not about replicating Victorian architecture; it's about eliminating repetitive architecture that saps identity from a neighbourhood. about creating pre-war housing architecture.

3. It is all about new urbanism or placemaking. New urbanism a catchphrase, but it's about old-fashioned, grid-style developments with a diversity of home types and architecture. Placemaking involves integrating all industrial, commercial, residential and retail areas.

2. It is just about what the buildings look like. No, it's about how we deliver our walking spaces, our driving spaces, our open spaces. It's more than just architecture and landscaping.

1. It is not economically viable. New urbanist communities are thriving across North America. New ones are being built every day. They're sought after by home buyers.

So Londons new urban planner did some debunking of his own - and we really like his conclusions!


Chris Holt said...

OK - I'm having a very difficult time resisting the urge to pack up the kiddies and heading back to London.

I lived in the Wortley Village area of Old South London for 10 years, and can attest to its superiority as a neighbourhood. If the entire city starts to move in this direction with this new city planner (aren't WE looking for a new planner as well?) we will have a lot of catching up to do if we want to lure people here instead of the Forest City.

And honestly, we are so far behind that if the planning department doesn't hire someone with vision and the ability to navigate the poisonous environment at city hall, we may just be too late.

Mark Boscariol said...

Negativity alert
Maybe a disclamer should be posted

The passion of to make tangible progress in the effort to benefit Windsor's cultural identity, social fabric and economic development can lead to brief bouts of frustration. However they are always followed by a redoubling of our efforts

Chris Holt said...

Thanks Mark :) I needed that!

BBS said...

The 10 points and accompanying descriptions tell me that there is much to do in terms of approach and communication. It has taken over 30 years of compromise and change to reach where we are today. The seeds of change may have been sown, but time is required.

Mark Boscariol said...

Not that you're suggesting it, I just don't think our city could survive another 30 years of bad development.

Either Way, slim chance I'll be around to see it.

What would help is getting the leaders in our community to join together in calling for acceptance. That would fast track this, the chamber and development commission are in my view, the only groups that can make this happen.

dave said...

I use my front porch more than my own backyard. It is inviting and I get quite the view of downtown.

I can't argue (darn it) any of those points.

Now where is Windsor in regards to their hiring of a planning official? Have they even set out the guidelines yet?

Urbanrat said...

Backyards at one time in a city was where you parked your horse and had your lew..outhouse and maybe just a small plot of land for garden.

Cities have always been about being in public, rubbing shoulders with you neighbours, being seen on the street and knowing the merchants your dealt with..not what we have become in the burbs..alone, isolated and almost paranoid in knowing or caring for your neighbour.

That is why I call the burbs..sub-urban rather than suburban, Lakeshore, Lasalle etc are not urbane, they are just gloried used parking lots for cars. The National Film Board has an animatiion..years old, where an alien viewed earth and came to the conclusion that the car was the main life form and was inhabited by parasites. Much what I still think of the sub-urbs!

When in London in the 80's attending grad school, all us outsiders attending made the one observation of London at that time...12 shopping malls looking for a city!! And it was! The core was a desolate place. But I can go farther back than that. When my grandmother was the home manager for the Labatt family and I visited her, I use to play in the paved allies, amongst the carriage houses that once stabled the horses with living accommodations above, it was a neat place to hang out.

The London story posted is great to see in writing! Nothing has ever come close to that in Windsor. It is not for our city planners in trying and I assume that they are all aware of the literature and what is happening elsewhere, It just that historically our city councils have never paid attention to them and have always gone with the knee-jerk reaction to development style. Councils have always seem to appear to be afraid of any developers with a grand scheme in this city..that if they don't do the knee-jerk dance all will be lost, regardless of the harm or the expense it will in future do to this city.

Urbanrat said...

Just another thought. Why do us Windsorites have to read out of town newspapers to get new ideas that are happening in other cities in Canada and around the world. It seems to be a feature of the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail to write about their city and cities around the world. The Windsor (dwarf) Star never does publish or review what other cities are doing. No wonder most of our citizens are blind to what is happening.