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Developing sustainable neighbourhoods

Sustainability has become an increasingly important element to be considered in the planning of urban areas. Although it is central in the consideration of cities, for some reason it has received less attention in the development of neighbourhoods. Yet cities cannot be considered sustainable if their component parts, such as neighbourhoods, do not meet sustainability criteria. Surprisingly, it is perfectly feasible to include sustainability elements in neighbourhood consideration. If one follows the development of neighbourhood theory from Howard and Perry through to more recent contributions, it can be seen that the ideas of sustainability, although not by that name, are central to these various contributions. Neighbourhood sustainability criteria mirror those used in sustainability analysis for higher level cities and towns, including consideration of the economic, the social, the technical and the environmental. Unfortunately, the application of these theoretical concepts to the neighbourhoods of modern Arab cities, such as Riyadh, leads to disappointing results. In the case of Riyadh, this appears to be due to a number of factors: the rapid urbanization, the relative scarcity of public shared facilities such as schools and green areas, and the adaptations that have been made to the original plan devised for the city. Interestingly, it is in the newer, planned neighbourhoods on the periphery of the city that these sustainability criteria might be most closely met. This suggests that success in neighbourhood sustainability may well be as dependent upon marketing as on urban planning.
Charles L. Choguill
King Saud University
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Saudi Arabia
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