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What is New Urbanism?

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The following definition is provided by the Congress of New Urbanism:

New urbanism is a movement that began in the late ‘80s which aims to reform real estate development as we know it, in an aim to reduce urban sprawl. New Urbanists support regional planning for open space, appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing. They believe these strategies are the best way to reduce the time people spend in traffic, to increase the supply of affordable housing, and to rein in urban sprawl.

The question is not ‘smart growth’ vs. ‘no growth.’ Rather, it is smart growth vs. sprawl. All cities and towns start out with lower densities, and eventually evolve into denser places. That’s how we accommodate our growing populations. The only alternative is to grow endlessly outward. That destroys a region’s quality of life as it consumes farmland and wilderness, creates very high levels of vehicle use and moves homes further and further from jobs, schools and parks.

In a dense development, many trips can be taken by foot and mass transportation is feasible. As a result, the overall vehicle miles driven in the region goes down.

The CNU Congress was founded by architects and planners. Today its members include realtors, developers, public officials, citizen activists, researchers, landscape architects, builders and bankers.


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