In Traditional Neighborhood Development, the grid is celebrated, and the relationship of buildings to the street is a critical part of site design. Streets are considered as "outdoor living rooms" and common space, with buildings serving as the walls; mostly perpendicular to and facing the street.
Our community's draft comprehensive plan recommends TND for certain areas close to the city that it surrounds. Compact, mixed use, a variety of building types, with design inspired by traditional town building principles; the usual. However, a possible wrench that might be thrown into the works is the local popularity of what could be called "ploppy sloppy site planning", where buildings are arranged in a deliberately random or "organic" manner. Here's an example of a cottage development in an outlying community:
A cluster development in the area:
Staggered setbacks for their own sake are also popular. A project now under construction in the area. Note the remote parking, also looked at positively around here.
Every so often, someone will stop by the office with conceptual development plans for a parcel in the community. Inevitably, the form will be "ploppy", taking its cue from the iconic cluster development pictured above. Ploppy site planning seems to be so popular here, I believe because of rustic or natural aspirations that appeal to the region's crunchy, eco-minded populace. The response from other staff members to ploppy projects is usually positive. Me, not so much.
What's the problem with ploppy? I think it could have a place in a rural context, among a landscape that is more rural, and indeed, natural. However, my fear is that when we move forward with TND, developers will still present the community with tempting plans for ploppy, Ploppy, however, doesn't work in the context of TND, where building arrangement, and the relationship of buildings to the street and each other, are more deliberate and regular. The pseudo-random building arrangement also results in a lot of unprogrammed space that is neither functionally common nor private. The inefficiency of random-ish site planning reduces the amount of land that is potentially available for useful, functional open space, or in a more urban context, density.
What are your thoughts on ploppy site planning? What do you think are its pluses and minuses? Is it common in your area?