1998 3.The Role and the Method of Community Planning/22nd INTA World Congress, Taipei

(22nd INTA World Congress, Taipei, 1998)”The Role and the Method of Community Planning”

Hirohide Konami (Ph.D.)Professor, Faculty of Regional Development Studies, Toyo Universitye-mail: konami@pluto.dti.ne.jpFax. (+81)-3-3483-8447

1 Forewords

The history of Japanese community planning will back to the 17th century when the Edo Government tried to establish a neighborhood unit within large city areas in order to keep the society clean and beautiful and to prevent the movement of resistance. This system was also useful to grow the voluntary work of mutual help. A community is one of the most important unit for the better human life and usually performed within the same apartment house, along the same street, within the same address area, within the same school zone of a primary school, within an area of a new town, within the same information network of a community TV or a computer media society, and so on. A community may also exist even in the same office building. Though all of the planning of these may be called community planning, I would rather prefer to focus on the physical community planning in the field of city planning.


2 Traditional Way of Planning in Japan

Japanese planning manual suggests a planning technical standard so called “Neighborhood Unit Planning”. A neighborhood is defined as a community of about 100 ha with the population of about 10,000 people and with a primary school. Although the average gross population density of residential area in Japan has the tendency to decrease year by year together with the improvements of housing standard, this traditional way of community planning is based on the population density of 100 people per hector. This traditional community unit may be also called as a primary school zone. This 100 ha square area is surrounded by four arterial streets and has cross type access roads inside connecting the center. Service roads are located densely in residential zones. As a result the span of parallel arterial streets is about 1 km and that of access roads is about 50 meters. The density of service roads depends on the size of residential lots. If the lot size is 300 square meters, one lot is usually shaped 12 meters by 25 meters, and 12 m side faces the service road. The width of a service road is usually 6 meters and the contribution of one side becomes 3 meters. Then the road ratio of service roads is calculated dividing 3 by 25 and becomes 12 %. If the lot size is 200 square meters, a lot is usually shaped 10 meters by 20 meters and the ratio becomes 15 %. A main green park is located around the center with the area of 2 hectors. This park will be planned for the community sport festivals, traditional annual festivals such as “Obon” and “Omatsuri”, and of course for tree planting and gardens. This park is called “Neighborhood Park”. Four smaller parks are located for quarter zones with the area of about 2,500 square meters each. These parks are called “Small District Park” and planned mainly for the use of children. The central area is composed by a primary school, a shopping center, and some service functions such as clinics, a post office, a branch office of city hall, and etc. One or two sub-centers for shopping are usually prepared within the area. 

  Now, this traditional planning method, started in the 20th century, had been the main idea of a community planning in Japan. So, if we plan a new town of the population of 100 thousand, then we prepared 10 neighborhood units within the new town area. But in these days, the number of children produced by a couple is only 1.3 or 1.4 and the number of pupils of a primary school is decreasing. Moreover, high rate of car ownership made the people easy to visit remote shopping centers. Therefore this idea of neighborhood unit planning is gradually losing its role.


3 Some Discussions on Community Planning

First of all the size of a community should be discussed. The size may be measured by the number of population, by the size of the area or by the length of the community. The community I mentioned above is the size of 10,000 population, 100 hectors and about 1 kilo-meter. I feel that this size is a little too large to identify as a community because the people over there cannot be acquainted each other and they cannot keep the same interest. So a quarter section with the population of about 2,500 surrounding a small district park may be a community in these days. From another view point such as the possibility of daily greeting, 2,500 people may be still too large. Only the people in the same block may feel that they are in the same community. Secondly, if the street network is closed, in other words, if the area is surrounded by a ring road, then the people in the area may feel the same community, and if the street network is open like a grid pattern, the people there will not find the boundary of communities. Therefore, the street pattern has a strong influence on the performance of a community. Thirdly, if the people in a area have some same identification such as the workers of the same industry or the same generation, they will feel the same community. But this kind of community will have some problems such as the nervousness to the next doors or the unbalanced composition of age groups of the population. Then, it would be suggested that it is important to discuss about the size of a community, the road pattern and some measures to give them an identification of the same community.


4 Examples of Community Planning

In case of Tsukuba Science City which was been developed as a new home town of national research and academic institutes removed from Tokyo since 1960’s. The area is about 20 km’s north and south, and about 5 km’s east and west. The population now is about 200 thousand. If we apply the above mentioned traditional way of community planning, there must be about 20 communities in this new town. But it is quite difficult to identify the community boundary except the boundary of addresses. The people in the same address area can share the same primary school and have some community activities leaded by the municipality or by the primary school. Other than this, communities could not be grown because of the high migration rate of the researchers and of the high mobility of the people by car. So, in this case, there are some communities connected by primary schools and one large community connected by the Thukuba Cable TV Network. In case of Suwano New Town in Fukushiima Prefecture, the total population is only several hundreds with about 200 households. Then, all of the people living in the new town will feel that they are in the same community. Moreover, a common space supplied for 8 to 10 households each will strengthen their communication. On the other hand, there may be a risk that the whole new town area will be isolated from the surrounding existing areas. In case of Uneme New Town in Yokkaichi City, Mie Prefecture, the whole new town area was connected by a ring road with a jogging path. Though the all of the households of about several hundreds are expected to perform a good community connected by this ring roads, the result has not appeared yet. The new town is now just developing.


5 Method of Realization

As far as Japan has experienced for these 30 years since the City Planning Law was revised in 1968, the realization of physical community planning was mainly relied upon land readjustment projects or development permission. As I mentioned above, the street network, location plan of community parks and each housing lot are the fundamentals of a physical community planning. And some development or redevelopment projects for the planning area should be introduced to realize the community plan. The simple installation of a street or green parks will not be enough to carry out the well considered community planning. Land readjustment will make it possible to relocate the existing houses and construct new street network, green parks and sewage system all together. In case of new development, the development permission system works very well, because the governments can advise the developers to design a good community planning prior to the

permission. These areas are recommended by municipalities to be facilitated by a district plan or an agreement of building coordination in order to keep the area as long as possible to grow the original intention of the planners.


6 Conclusion

 A hopeful community will be grown by the combination of physical city planning, supporting facilities such as meeting rooms, voluntary activities and communication tools. And it is also important to understand the purposes of a community planning and make it the consensus of the related people there. The purposes may be to keep the area clean and beautiful, to prevent crimes, to grow the voluntary mind of mutual help, to create an enjoyable human space and so on. If a community planning becomes a simple play of planners or designers, it may soon lose the role as the core function of city planning.