The term neighborhood is often used to describe the sub divisions of urban or rural settlements. In its purest definition, a neighborhood is the vicinity in which people live. Neighbourhood unit idea was proposed by Clarence Perry in 1929. Neighborhoods have some particular physical or social characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the settlement. The clustering of these neighborhoods has formed towns, villages, and cities. The Neighbourhood unit plan in brief is the effort to create a residential neighbourhood to meet the needs of family life in a unit related to the larger whole but possessing a distinct entity. 

Perry described the neighborhood unit as that populated area which would require and support an elementary school with an enrolment of between 1,000 and 1,200 pupils. This would mean a population of between 5,000 and 6,000 people. Developed as a low density dwelling district with a population of 10 families per acre, the neighborhood unit would occupy about 160 acres and have a shape which would render it unnecessary for any child to walk a distance of more than one-quarter mile to school. 

About 10% of the area would be allocated to recreation, and through traffic arteries would be confined to the surrounding streets, internal streets being limited to service access for residents of the neighborhood. The unit would be served by shopping facilities, churches, library and a community center, the latter being located in conjunction with the school. Perry outlined six basic principles of good neighborhood design. As may be understood, these core principles were organized around several institutional, social and physical design ideals. 

  1. Major arterials and through traffic routes should not pass through residential neighborhoods. Instead these streets should provide boundaries of the neighborhood 
  2. Interior street patterns should be designed and constructed through use of cul-de-sacs, curved layout and light duty surfacing so as to encourage a quiet, safe and low volume traffic movement and preservation of the residential atmosphere 
  3. The population of the neighborhood should be that which is required to support its elementary school 
  4. The neighborhood focal point should be the elementary school centrally located on a common or green, along with other institutions that have service areas coincident with the neighborhood boundaries 
  5. The radius of the neighborhood should be a maximum of one quarter mile thus precluding a walk of more than that distance for any elementary school child 
  6. Shopping districts should be sited at the edge of neighborhoods preferably at major street intersections.
Neighbourhood unit

Principles of Neighbourhood Planning 

1) Size 

The town is divided into selfcontained units or sectors of 10,000 populations. This is further divided into smaller units called neighbourhood unit with 2,000 to 5,000 based on the requirement of one primary school. The size of the unit is therefore limited to about 1 to 1.5 sq km i.e. within walkable distance of 10 to 15 minutes. 

2) Boundaries 

The unit should be bounded on all its sides by main road, wide enough for traffic. 

3) Protective Strips 

These are necessary to protect the neighbourhood from annoyance of traffic and to provide suitable facilities for developing parks, playgrounds and road widening scheme in future. These are also called Minor Green Belts. 

4) Internal Streets 

The internal streets are designed to ensure safety to the people and the school going children in particular, since the mothers are anxious every day till the safe return of the child. The internal streets should circulate throughout the unit with easy access to shops and community centres. 

5) Layout of Buildings 

To encourage neighbourhood relation and secure social stability and balance, houses to suit the different income group should be provided such as single family houses, double family houses, cottages, flats, etc. 

6) Shopping Centres 

Each shop should be located on the circumference of the unit, preferably at traffic junctions and adjacent to the neighbourhood units. 

7) Community Centres 

Each community will have its centre with social, cultural and recreational amenities. 

8) Facilities 

All public facilities required for the family for their comfort and convenience should be within easy reach. These include the primary school, temple, club, retail shop, sport centre, etc. These should be located within 1km in the central place so as to form a nucleus to develop social life of the unit.

Neighborhood in the Contemporary Urban Context 

The concept of neighborhood unit in traditional built environments and rural settlements constituted a strong sense of attachment, identity, admittance and belonging for inhabitants. Neighborhood feeling in contemporary urban environments is less dependent on the sharing of common close physical residential environment. Impacts of urbanization, rise of mass society, modernization, improved inter connectivity and the consequent increased socio-spatial mobility in the neighborhood has been highly destructive. Increasing mobility and transportation facilities have opened up new possibilities, thereby disregarding the benefits expected of a neighborhood. 
Remote activities and changed lifestyles of dwelling occupants thus become the basic factors that shape the social environment. This issue causes segregation of the social environment from the immediate physical environment. Most of the current housing approaches concentrate on the physical attributes of single dwelling units and exclude the fact that the dwelling units rarely stand alone in a given physical space. The high-rise settlement blocks with inadequately planned physical environment characterize most of the contemporary developments. This however does not diminish the importance of the neighborhood unit.



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