Traditional Neighborhood Development

Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) is a design technique that replicates historic development patterns found in American towns and applies their basic elements to new development projects. TND designs include compact, pedestrian friendly development with a mix of land uses in a village-type setting, unlike the sprawling, conventional subdivisions that have dominated residential development since the middle of the 20th Century. Use of TND in place of a conventional subdivision reduces land consumption and preserves open space. TND can be used to develop entirely new communities, but can also be used to extend or fill-in an existing community. Existing historic structures can also be incorporated into the TND.


The following advantages are associated with implementation of Traditional Neighborhood Development programs:


The following limitations can be associated with Traditional Neighborhood Development programs:

How To Use This Tool

Municipalities considering TNDs should follow these steps:

  1. Evaluate Community Policy and Support: The municipality should review its comprehensive plan to determine whether the principles of TND are supported by the community. If the community supports the concept, the municipality should establish any additional policies that may be necessary to permit and promote TND, as well as support the provision of open space and village-type developments.
  2. Community Profile: The municipality should determine how the TND concept can fit within the community's character and be supported by municipal services. The municipality should determine whether any TND-type developments currently exist within the community. Is there adequate access to utilities and transportation facilities for potential TNDs? These issues should be addressed prior to moving forward with a TND ordinance.
  3. Ordinance Review: After completing the two previous steps, the municipality should evaluate its current zoning and subdivision regulations to determine how TND can be integrated into the municipality's ordinances. Conventional zoning and subdivision regulations typically do not support TND-type developments. This review should identify how existing ordinances impede the creation of smaller lots and the compact, mixed-use character of a TND.
  4. Zoning Ordinance Revisions: Flexibility and simplicity are keys to the success of TND projects. If necessary, zoning and subdivision and land development ordinances should be amended to support TND. The TND should be offered as an option within the zoning ordinance as a "by-right" land use, with specific standards for land uses, density and designs. For example, lots as small as 7,500 square feet (or smaller) should be encouraged. Standards such as "build-to" lines instead of deep yard setbacks should be included to encourage structures to be located near roadways and to define street space and a "sense of place".
  5. Special amendments may also be needed to permit mixed land uses, to allow for on-street parking, narrow streets (down to 18 feet), alleys, sidewalks and interconnected transportation facilities.

Common design elements of TND

Ordinance Mapping

The municipality should identify appropriate locations for potential TNDs within the zoning ordinance and zoning map. TNDs should have good access to significant roads including major highways and collector roads (although they should not directly abut such roadways). Ordinances can allow TNDs either in fixed locations or as "floating" districts that can be applied with specific circumstances can be met.

The TND ordinance should establish a minimum tract area that can support the elements of a successful design. Twenty acres is often characterized as the smallest area that can support a new TND community, but local circumstances such as in-fill can allow even smaller TND tracts to be successful.



Related References

The Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, Act 247, enables municipalities to establish land use controls such as zoning and subdivision ordinances that can accommodate traditional neighborhood development patterns. Article VII-A provides the specifics for TND in the MPC. The Official Map, as provided in Article IV of the Municipalities Planning Code, can help establish the road network and infrastructure rights-of-way needed for TNDs.

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