Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Latimer Neighbourhood Land-Use Plan Focuses on Walkability

Last year, I posted about the Township of Langley’s plan for the Latimer Neighbourhood in Willoughby. This Monday, Township Council approved the third reading of this plan with the note that some “fine tuning” be made to the plan based on feedback from the public hearing. I expect this plan will be approved essentially as-is at the fourth and final reading.

One of the major changes in land-use from the draft version of the plan, presented last fall, is on the northwest corner of 80th Avenue and 200th Street from a Business Park to a Mixed-Use designation.

Latimer Neighbourhood Land-Use Plan. Select image to enlarge.

The Latimer Plan has two mixed-use designation. “Mixed Use” which is in red on the map can be commercial-only or commercial/residential, and “Apartment – Mixed Use” which is brown with red hashes on the map requires ground-level commercial and above-ground level residential within the same building. Single-story building are not allowed in these zones. At the intersection of 200th Street and 80th Avenue, the Township is requiring “landmark buildings” which must be at least three storeys, to a maximum of 12 storeys. In all cases, the ground-level commercial must have pedestrian access via the street front.

The major theme in the Latimer Plan is the creation of a walkable community. For example, gas stations and drive-thrus will not be permitted in Latimer. With the exception of the pre-existing business park, all commercial development must be walkable.

Building street-front surface parking lots is a sure-fire way to kill walkability, so I’m happy to see that the Township has put a lot of thought into parking. For example, 50% of all parking in the mixed-use zones and business park zone must be underground or in a concealed parking structure. If a developer commits to underground parking, the Township will reduce commercial parking requirements by 10% as an incentive.

All buildings in the mixed-use zones must front the street. When there is surface parking, the majority of it must be hidden behind the rear of the building. Some surface parking may be permitted on the side of a building as long as it is screened from view from the street.

The Latimer neighbourhood will contain two walkable neighbourhood centres. One at 201st Street and 81st Avenue, and one at 198th Street and 76 Avenue.

Walkable Node at 201st Street and 81st Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Mixed-use buildings will form the centre of these nodes with live-work townhouses at the edge of the nodes, before transitioning to various density residential-only areas.

Live-work units are indented to create a pedestrian-friendly street wall, and must have the commercial part of the unit fronting the street.

The Latimer Neighbourhood will also have a system on on-street and off-street greenways for walking and cycling.

I’m excited to see this neighbourhood plan turn into reality, and it is good to see that the Township is talking walkability seriously.

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