Research examines historical use of Planned Unit Developments

by Sara Abraham-Oxford

School of Urban and Public Affairs Assistant Professor Andrew Whittemore focused on his research of cluster developments and the planning tool used for them, Planned Unit Development (PUD), while on Faculty Development Leave as a guest scholar at UCLA during the fall semester. He notes that historically planners hoped that these developments would allow for denser housing and more affordable housing in the suburbs. He also found that expectations that PUDs would combat suburban sprawl were “overly hopeful,” adding that “it takes a very sophisticated developer with a lot of capital” to implement such developments successfully.

Whittemore used a case study of PUD use in Los Angeles. Planners there hoped to use PUDs to preserve hillsides and promote affordable housing development but they were confronted by neighbors’ fears that the developments would result in substandard housing. The resistance to the developments made them politically and economically unfeasible. Whittemore has submitted an article based on this research to the Journal of Planning History.

He is currently focusing on the use of PUDs in Dallas’ Oak Lawn neighborhood. He found that PUDs were used quite extensively in Texas as they “allowed unique zoning to cater to specific needs.” He is studying Oak Lawn to understand “how PUDs are used, what developers are getting and what the community is getting.” Whittemore is preparing an article on this topic for publication.