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Rethinking single family neighborhoods


Earlier this week a good friend of mine sent me a scanned article from this month’s issue of Urban Land Magazine called: Rethinking PADs–Private Accessory Dwellings. He said, I know you have a thing for PADs, so here you go. 

PADs, or private accessory dwellings, is simply another term for nanny flat or laneway house. Whatever you want to call it, the concept is the same. It’s about taking a single family house and adding an additional dwelling onto that same lot. 

In many cities around the world, this is not allowed. Each lot is to have only one dwelling unit. And that’s because the single family home – particularly in North America – has been considered sacrosanct.

But as I’ve argued and demonstrated before, I think we’re on the cusp of this changing. Here’s a snippet from the Urban Land article (unfortunately, I don’t think the full article is available online):

“If PADs can be added in appropriate scale and number, existing housing, zoned land, and current infrastructure could be efficiently used to increase housing supply and to stabilize and even reduce housing prices. Moreover, since PADs are by definition smaller than existing dwellings, they will attract both younger and older residents who will enrich the intergenerational composition of both urban and suburban communities.”

I’m happy to see Urban Land (the magazine of the Urban Land Institute) giving this topic some air time. There are a number of social, economic, and environmental benefits to intensifying single family neighborhoods. And the most progressive cities in the world are already doing it.

What is your city’s position on accessory dwellings? Toronto doesn’t support them. But there are instances where people have gotten them approved.

Image: Kensington Market Laneway House, Toronto via Flickr

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