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TND Design Rating Standards

The Town Paper invites nominations to the TND website list. Contact to nominate a traditional neighborhood development (TND) website to the list.

With several hundred developments represented on the links list, it's necessary to have clear and consistent criteria for inclusion. There are a few basic prerequisites:

• Only developments that have broken ground are listed. City plans are listed if they are specific, three-dimensional, and have been implemented.

• Two blocks (approximately 5 acres) and 40 dwellings is the minimum size.

• Housing in the development must be available to the public, and not entirely restricted to an age group or organization.

• Gated developments are not listed.

The Town Paper seeks websites that illustrate the principles of traditional neighborhood design through plans, drawings, photographs and written description and statistics. See the article "TNDs on the Web" for information about good practice in TND website design.

Rating Standards Guidebook

Over the course of several years, the process of evaluating developments for the links list has sharpened and focused my concept of what constitutes good neighborhood design. I've applied that experience to create a formal set of standards for rating the design of TNDs. A guidebook for implementing the standards may be downloaded here:

TND Design Rating Standards Version 2.2
(This link will be updated continuously as new versions are released.)

Rating Standards Tools

TND Design Rating Standards Worksheet Version 2.2
This is the Rating Standards worksheet in Excel spreadsheet format. The spreadsheet is already filled in, showing a perfect score (five stars in every category) and the default weights for each category. When new category scores are entered, the final project score will be automatically calculated.

Rating Standards Description

Compared to the evaluation of websites for the Town Paper links list, a formal rating is a more involved and detailed process. On-site visits and personal experience are necessary to rate a place. Ideally, every neighborhood on the Town Paper links list will rate at least "acceptable" according to this rating system; however, most of the listed neighborhoods have not been formally evaluated.

The goals of the TND Design Rating Standards are to be relatively clear and simple, useable by anyone with a minimum amount of knowledge and training, and to require no specialized tools such as a GIS. The following standards are used:

1. Housing choice: Probability that any two dwellings will be different in type or size

2. Mixed use: Number of categories counted

3. Connectivity: Intersections per square mile (or square kilometer)

4. External connections: Number of entrance/exit points per foot (or meter) of perimeter length

5. Proximity: Percent of land within walking distance of town/neighborhood center, schools, parks and transit

6. Location: Evaluation of project location in the regional context

7. Streetscapes: Evaluation of overall quality of public frontages, private frontages and vehicular lanes.

8. Civic space: Evaluation of overall quality of civic space

9. Architectural aesthetics: Evaluation of overall quality of architectural exteriors

Additional Resources

• See also the article "Five Stars for Urban Design," an overview of the TND Design Rating Standards published in the American Planning Association's New Urbanism Division Newsletter, Summer, 2005 issue.

• The Belmont Bay Town Center in Woodbridge, Va., was formally evaluated using a previous version of the design standards. The evaluation was published in New Towns as "Belmont Bay: Community Critique."

• The TND Design Rating Standards system is listed in the 2006 EPA compilation "Smart Growth scorecards."

• Portions of the TND Design Rating Standards are incorporated in the U.S. Green Building Council's draft LEED-ND rating system.

Comments and suggestions about the rating system and standards are welcome; please direct your communications to .