Preserving rural character in New England: local residents’ perception of alternative residential development

Ryan, L.R., 2002, Preserving rural character in New England: local residents’ perception of alternative residential development, in: Landscape and Urban Planning, 61,

  • Author : Ryan, L.R.
  • Year : 2002
  • Journal/Series : Landscape and Urban Planning
  • Volume Number (CONSECUTIVE: Counting all Volumes of this Journal ever published) : 61
  • Pages : 19-35
  • Abstract in English : Rural landscapes throughout North America and Europe are being threatened by new residential development at the edge of metropolitan areas. New development consumes farmland, woods, and other natural features that attracted residents to these areas in the first place. In New England, as in many regions, preserving rural character and scenery is also essential for the local tourism industry. In order to accommodate rural residential development and maintain the integrity of the rural landscape, planners have looked for alternatives to traditional large residential subdivisions. There is a need to understand the public’s perceptions of these innovative developments and their compatibility with the rural landscape. The goal of this study is to help planners accommodate new residential development in a manner that is consistent with local residents’ perceptions of rural character and at the same time better for the environment than traditional development patters. The results of this study reinforce the idea that the visual quality of a subdivision is key to local residents ‘perception of whether or not it is compatible with the rural landscape. Subdivisions in which the protected open space is more visible from the public realm are more perceived to be more compatible with the rural landscape. Perceptions of rural character were strongly based on natural features, rather than on cultural features. I must be noted that the most compatible subdivision views showed only a small number of homes. This creates a dilemma for conservation subdivision design. In order to preserve valuable open space, home in cluster subdivisions are closer together than in traditional subdivisions. Creative site design could be used to mitigate the high density appearance of rural subdivisions.
  • Comments/Notes : KEYWORDS: rural development, residential development, preferences, group difference, subdivision (see Glossary), cluster zoning, density.