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A planned unit development (PUD), is a type of building development and also a regulatory process. As a building development, it is a designed grouping of both varied and compatible land uses, such as housing, recreation, commercial centers, and industrial parks, all within one contained development or subdivision.
The origins of PUDs in the new American communities can be traced to British movements during the 1950s. The developments in Britain's new communities dealt with the locations of industrial elements and how they were publicly dictated before building ever began in order to uphold an economic base. However, in America, privately controlled communities often had to attract industry after the residential sectors had been built and occupied.
The oldest forms of the planned unit development in America appeared shortly after World War II in the Levittowns and Park Forest developments as whole communities within the limits and orbits of large metropolitan centers. The first zoning evidence of PUD was created by Prince Georges County, Maryland in 1949. It "permit[ed] the development of a large tract of land as a complete neighborhood unit, having a range of dwelling types, the necessary local shopping facilities and off-street parking areas, parks, playgrounds, school sites, and other community facilities" (Burchell 43). Alexandria, Virginia, in 1952, as an amendment to its city code, provided for a "Community Unit Plan" with the intent to provide for planned community facilities and open space development with new residential building. One of the first modern uses of the actual term "planned unit development" appears in San Francisco's code of ordinances in 1962.
PUD as a regulatory process is a means of land regulation which promotes large scale, unified land development by means of mid-range, realistic programs in chase of physically curable, social and economic deficiencies in land and cityscapes. Where appropriate, this development control promotes:
Frequently, PUDs take on a variety of forms ranging from small clusters of houses combined with open spaces to new and developing towns with thousands of residents and various land uses. However, the definition of a PUD does not take into consideration these types of developments unless they fit into a category of size ranging from 100 to 200 acres (40 to 81 ha). In a PUD the property owner owns the land the dwelling sits on.
In PUDs, the zoning of districts becomes very different from what was standard under the Standard Zoning Enabling Act. Historically, the districts were very narrow in type and large in area. Within PUDs, zoning becomes much more integrated with multiple land uses and districts being placed on adjacent land parcels.
Residential properties in PUDs are by far the most numerous and occupy the largest land areas. PUDs tend to incorporate single-family residential uses within close proximity to two-family units and multiple-family dwellings to form a larger diversified neighborhood concept. Schools, churches, retirement homes, hospitals, and recreation facilities begin to find their way into residential districts. Residential districts also tend to use the best land in the community and the most favorable sites are protected from commercial and industrial uses.
Grouping shopping districts by service area is a first step in returning to the neighborhood concept. Land is reserved for regional, community, and local shopping clusters with some specific restrictions based on market experience and on what types of business intend to locate at each development. Local shopping districts with sufficient provisions for off-street parking, height restrictions, and traffic control are not frequently found surrounded by residential areas.
Industrial standards now help to reduce the journey for employees to work. Nowadays, there tends to be environmental and performance regulations that cut back on the amount of nuisance to surrounding areas adjacent to industrial districts. With sufficient setbacks, off-street parking, and height regulations, industrial locations adjacent to residential zones are usually looked to as an overall community goal. PUDs do not normally have large numbers of industrial districts, but if so, they tend to be geared more towards light industry.
A planned residential unit development (PRUD) (sometimes planned unit residential development (PURD)) is a variant form of PUD where common areas are owned by the individual homeowners and not a home owners association or other entity. A PURD is considered the same as a PUD for planning commission purposes and allows for flexibility in zoning and civic planning.
Houses in PUDs often include access to a large shared open space surrounding the house as well as a smaller private yard. These large protected open spaces are created by the layout of the buildings and are intended for use by all residents of the developments. Different housing types (single-family, two-family, multiple-family) are often mixed rather than separated as is done in conventional development
Street patterns are one of the most important elements in establishing the neighborhood character of a residential community. Most non-PUD development focuses on obtaining maximum frontage for lot sizes and maximum flow of traffic on all streets. However, in order to dispel the monotony of the typical grid plan street pattern, PUDs often employ a hierarchy of street types based on usage. Local streets serve only residences and have a low traffic volume, while collector streets connect local streets to arterials, which are the major routes of travel throughout a PUD.
Sidewalks and pedestrian ways of PUDs supplement and complement street systems in establishing the character of the neighborhood. Sidewalks are located on at least one side of every street to enable the walkability of the developments. Circulation systems are provided to link residential groupings, open space areas, schools, and local shopping areas.
It is in the ability to design each of these components simultaneously that makes PUDs unique and effective. Each of the elements work together to enhance the whole. This represents a major advantage over traditional zoning practices that force lots to be planned in accordance with broad rules that may allow for some incompatibility.