The National Benefits Hub

Research that Supports Recreation

← Home

Advanced Search

Linked landscapes: Creating greenway corridors through conservation subdivision strategies in the...

Key Message

Because of their low costs and inherent adaptability, conservation subdivisions can become the basic “building block” for creating community-wide and regional greenspace networks.  When local officials and residents are sensitized to the kind of “wall-to-wall” development that their existing conventional land-use codes will ultimately produce, they often become much more amenable to revising those codes to require that basic conservation principles be used for designing new subdivisions.

Source

Arendt, R. (2003). Linked landscapes: Creating greenway corridors through conservation subdivision strategies in the northeastern and central United States. Landscape and Urban Planning, 68(2-3), 241-269.

Purpose

Very broadly conceived, greenways can encompass extensive areas comprising natural and cultural landscapes such as prime farmland and upland habitat, in addition to linear elements such as stream valleys or environmentally sensitive lands which are unfit for development due to wetness, floodability, or steepness. Lo
Because of their low costs and inherent adaptability, conservation subdivisions can become the basic “building block” for creating greenways in their broadest sense: community-wide and regional greenspace networks (as envisioned in most municipal comprehensive plans). When local officials and residents are sensitized to the kind of “wall-to-wall” development that their existing conventional land-use codes will ultimately produce, they often become much more amenable to revising those codes to require that basic conservation principles from the field of landscape architecture be combined with zoning ordinances produced by land-use planners to fashion an improved process for designing new subdivisions, in which the protected greenspace is laid out to create an interconnected network of conservation lands, thus attaining the goal of “linked landscapes”.

All this can be achieved without involving any “taking” because no density reductions occur and because all the undivided conservation land typically remains under private ownership (usually by a homeowner association or a local land trust). When the municipality desires all or part of the land for public park purposes, and the developer is agreeable, conservation land may be donated or sold at a negotiated price to the community. Alternatively, municipalities may offer density bonuses in exchange for public dedication of the conservation acreage, or for greenway trail easements through it.cal land-use regulations can be written and implemented to pre-identify potential open space within each new residential subdivision in such a manner that every development contributes a segment to the community-wide conservation network envisioned in its comprehensive planning documents.

These reservations can easily comprise 40–70% of the buildable land within each new neighborhood, a major distinction setting this approach apart from previous “clustering” techniques—which were rarely utilized in any coordinated way to preserve interconnected open space networks. This approach augments the contributions of the planning profession with critical insights from the field of landscape architecture by institutionalizing basic principles of site assessment, planning, and design in new model zoning and subdivision ordinance language.

Those recommended regulatory provisions can then be adopted by local governments in developing areas at the edges of expanding metropolitan regions, a process that can be enhanced and accelerated through education programs for local officials.

The advantages of this approach lie in its economy, administrative ease, fairness to landowners, and political acceptance, which combine to make it potentially one of the most promising physical planning techniques to emerge in recent decades.

Evidence

Because of their low costs and inherent adaptability, conservation subdivisions can become the basic “building block” for creating greenways in their broadest sense: community-wide and regional greenspace networks (as envisioned in most municipal comprehensive plans). When local officials and residents are sensitized to the kind of “wall-to-wall” development that their existing conventional land-use codes will ultimately produce, they often become much more amenable to revising those codes to require that basic conservation principles from the field of landscape architecture be combined with zoning ordinances produced by land-use planners to fashion an improved process for designing new subdivisions, in which the protected greenspace is laid out to create an interconnected network of conservation lands, thus attaining the goal of “linked landscapes”.

All this can be achieved without involving any “taking” because no density reductions occur and because all the undivided conservation land typically remains under private ownership (usually by a homeowner association or a local land trust). When the municipality desires all or part of the land for public park purposes, and the developer is agreeable, conservation land may be donated or sold at a negotiated price to the community. Alternatively, municipalities may offer density bonuses in exchange for public dedication of the conservation acreage, or for greenway trail easements through it.

Additional Information

| © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

Get Updates By Email