We need mixed-use communities, because people can then walk to the shops, walk to the park, walk children to school and walk to work. All without cars, traffic jams, stress and gridlock. Here are birthday books for your town planner!
If planting trees in your community, see tips on toxic plants to avoid near pets (choose dog-safe flowers for parks – all bulbs, cocoa/pine mulch and fresh compost should be avoided, as should yew/oak trees near horses). Use safe humane snail/slug deterrents and no-dig methods to protect wildlife.
- Suburban Remix shows how to create affordable mixed-use communities, for people that can’t buy detached homes with white picket fences. Case studies show how compact urban areas are already being created for health, economic and environmental benefits.
- Public Parks: The Key to Livable Communities argues that all councils should invest in parks, as green spaces enhance health, reduce traffic, and help the planet and wildlife. Parks also bring down heat island effect temperatures. Includes case studies.
- Soft City is written by an architect at the firm that helped redesign Copenhagen, the world’s most walkable city. Based on creating towns on a human scale (feet, not cars), this book looks at how we get around, including in cold weather. You may also like Cities for People.
- Sprawl Repair Manual is a good book on New Urbanism, as it looks at how to transform existing towns, rather than building new ones. Smart Growth is one of the few that focuses on UK solutions.
- Urban Advantage offers digital services to let planners see how wide pavements and more trees can transform an area (the before/after photos are enlightening). Most New Urbanists say buildings should be no higher than 4-stories (less isolation and to prevent tower block fires).
3 Mixed-Use Community Towns
- Seaside (Florida) is an ‘uppity town’ (you have to be a millionaire to live there). But this gorgeous place of white sandy beaches and pastel buildings (you’ll recognise it from the film The Truman Show) has lots to teach us. Inspired by the founder’s memories of sitting with his grandparents on the porch, all houses are in mixed-used communities so you can walk to the shops (there’s even a multi-faith church).
- Mt. Laurel (Alabama) re-planted trees removed to build it. Again, you can walk to the farmers’ market, shops and even the fire station. There are lovely woods and 2 dog parks (one for delicate oldies).
- Celebration (Florida) was built by Disney, and has its critics. But it’s a pretty area of pastel buildings and beautiful parks, with cars ‘hidden’ from view, due to unique design. The Post Office has a nice art deco design, and all residents are given a card to access pools, workout areas, tennis courts and playgrounds. It also has a next-to-zero crime rate.