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  • Writer's pictureTony Renta

Traditional Neighborhood Development

Pedestrian shed. TND. New urbanism. What do all these concepts have in common? They all aim to increase human activity and create vibrant communities. These are goals the RULD team has in mind when approaching new development opportunities as well.

Combatting suburbanization has become, and continues to be, a hot topic in the world of planning and landscape architecture. So just how can we overcome the car and re-focus on a pedestrian level? One way is to examine the pedestrian shed of an area. The ped shed refers to the length of time a person will walk to reach a destination before getting in their car and driving. Typically this is a 5 minute walk time, or approximately ¼ of a mile. Using this principle as a guideline when designing new developments, or retrofitting old neighborhoods can substantially increase the walkability of a neighborhood.

Another approach to the designing of neighborhoods and communities has cropped up in the past 30 years or so – the TND. What is a TND (traditional neighborhood development)? Simply put: a planning system used for a tract of land that includes a variety of housing types and land uses in a defined area. The beauty of a TND is that it allows for educational buildings, civic institutions, and commercial establishments to be located within walking distance of private residences. Streets, walkways, and pathways are designed to give residents the options to drive, walk or bike to destinations.

We recently planned a new development in Huntsville that has a little bit of everything going on. The parcel is strategically located next to a college and an existing residential neighborhood. The development will include housing units, commercial space (grocery store plus other retail shops), a park, and sidewalks throughout – on the main thoroughfare as well as smaller access streets. The hope is to also connect to the college through a pedestrian bridge – creating seamless access for students and other professionals. This development is a great example of how designers and developers can come together to build a new “village” that can plug into the existing built environment – while being conscious to create options for people on how they will navigate the site on a daily basis.

List of TND neighborhoods in the state of Alabama (as determined by The Town Paper’s – TND Design Rating Standards):


  1. Sprawl Costs. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from

  2. Links to TND and New Urban Neighborhoods. (n.d.). Retrieved March 19, 2015, from

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