Monday, December 9, 2013

Thoughts on Brookswood/Fernridge Community Plan

The Township of Langley is currently updating the community plan for Brookswood/Fernridge. The plan was last updated over 25 years ago. Through a series of open houses hosted over the last year, the Township has heard that people want a pedestrian-friendly community with close access to shops and services. People also want improved transit access and more cycling options. The preservation of green space is also key to the community.

While people supported the idea of providing a variety of house options one of the watch phrases that came up in the open houses was to “maintain the existing character” of the community. As Brookswood/Fernridge primarily consists of single-family housing, this means in that people also paradoxically want to keep the community single-family as well. The Township responded with a plan that keeps 84% of the land area single-family with mixed-use nodes at key intersections in the community. The Township is also proposing to allow row houses between the 24th Avenue and 32nd Avenue mixed-use nodes on 200th Street, and along 32 Avenue.

Proposed land-use plan for Brookswood/Fernridge. Click map to enlarge.

One of the interesting concepts in the Brookswood/Fernridge plan is to allow pocket neighbourhoods in the single-family areas. You can read more about pocket neighbourhoods in a previous blog post. I’m excited to see this idea being proposed in the community plan as it will allow density that supports building an accessible community while providing single-family style housing. The key will be to make sure that these pocket neighbourhoods are within easy walking distances of the mixed-use nodes.

One of the challenged I see in the plan is that the mixed-use nodes are spaces too far apart. Most people will walk about 5 minutes to shops and services with 10 minutes as an upper limit. The mixed-use nodes along 200th Street are 10 minutes apart. It seems that there should be another node at 28th Avenue at a minimum. The City of Surrey is proposing to allow live/work in row housing as part of its sustainability plans, and I think the Township should consider this for the proposed row housing along 200th Street and 32nd Avenue. It would certainly be in line with the character of Brookswood/Fernridge, and could put more people with walking distance of more shops and services.

One the transportation side of things, the Township is proposing to build out a grid street network which is good as it better supports walking, cycling, and transit. It is also good to see that a complete cycling network and greenway system is being proposed for the community.

Proposed open space, parks, and greenway map for Brookswood/Fernridge. Click map to enlarge.

It is always tricky to add density into an established single-family area, and I think the Township overall has done a good job all things considered. I believe that another mixed-used node at 28th Avenue as well as building pocket neighbourhoods will be key if this community is to be truly accessible.

The Township is currently seeking feedback on the plan, and you can submit your thoughts online until December 20th.

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