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Strategies for the Compact City

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Practice Advice on Cities, Urban and Regional Development

Strategies for the Compact City (OECD)

Description: The OECD provides advice on how to encourage compact cities in pursuit of green growth objectives.

Commentary: In 2012, the OECD published Compact Cities: A Comparative Assessment. This manuscript examines the concept of the compact city, and reviews compact city policies being implemented across the OECD. The authors identify several best practices based on empirical evidence that can be shared across OECD countries. Several key recommended policy strategies and sub-strategies are listed below.

 1. Set explicit compact city goals. National urban policy frameworks can take various forms, from a legally binding planning document to an informal guideline.

a.       Establish a national urban policy framework that includes compact city policies.

b.      Encourage metropolitan-wide strategic planning.

2.      2. Encourage dense and proximate development. This strategy mainly targets greenfield development at urban fringes.

a.       Increase effectiveness of regulatory tools.

b.      Target compact urban development in greenfield areas

c.       Set minimum density requirements for new development

d.      Establish mechanisms to reconcile conflicts of interests.

e.       Strengthen urban-rural linkage.

3.      3. Retrofit existing built up areas. Retrofitting built-up areas allows existing urban space to accommodate more activities. All built-up areas should be a target, from the central business district to single-family neighbourhoods.

a.       Promote brownfield development

b.      Harmonise industrial policies with compact city policies.

c.       Regenerate existing residential areas

d.      Promote transit-oriented development in built up areas.

e.       Encourage intensification of existing urban assets

4.      4. Enhance diversity and quality of life. Lively urban centres help to sustain the centrifugal power of a metropolitan area. Urban centres typically consist of offices and housing and commercial and residential functions, and their diversity can play a key role in the economic growth potential of a compact city.

a.       Promote mixed-land use

b.      Improve the match between residents and local services and jobs.

c.       Encourage focused investment in public space and foster a “sense of place.”

d.      Promote a walking and cycling environment.

5.      5. Minimize adverse negative effects. All the strategies should be combined with tools to minimize potential adverse effects that might offset expected positive outcomes. Compact city strategies should be coupled with strategies to combat unwanted effects.

a.       Counteract traffic congestion

b.      Encourage the provision of affordable housing

c.       Promote high-quality urban design to lower “perceived” density.

d.      Encourage the greening of built-up areas.

Source: OECD (2012). Compact City Policies: A Comparative Assessment at (accessed 15 September 2012).

Page Created By: Matthew Seddon on 19 December 2012. Updated by Ian Clark 2 January 2013. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.



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