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Master's Research Project (Professional Report)

New Urbanism and Affordable Housing: A Review of Policy for Planned Developments in Tennessee

Students: Andrew Beasley
Chair: Dr. Laura Dedenbach, AICP
Co-Chair: Dr. Julie Mah
Member Dr. Azza Kamal, LEED AP ND
Thesis: New Urbanism and Affordable Housing: A Review of Policy for Planned Developments in Tennessee

Semester/Year: Spring 2022

In the early 2000’s, New Urbanism, a planning approach that promotes neo-traditional landscapes present in early American cities, became popular throughout the planning community for its noted benefits over conventional sprawl development. One of the noted goals of new urbanism is to design neighborhoods in an equitable manner through urban form, thereby allowing multiple levels of income households access to livable, sustainable communities. For all the noted promises of new urbanism, however, successful implementation efforts have been mixed. Oftentimes, new urbanist visions and goals ignore equitable aspects of the charter, so adjustments rendered along the policy forming process eventually leads to development that does not create the diversity and inclusion new urbanism espouses. Thus, a gap in literature exists for understanding the relationship between policy and implementation. This study looks at the four major metropolitan statistical areas of the state of Tennessee and examines their planned development code for a) the presence of any affordable housing measures, and b) if present, what housing strategies are being utilized.


Using a qualitative approach, this study applies a content analysis to code involving planned developments and their policies on affordable housing. Knowing the content and strategies of existing code can better inform planners in the region of existing patterns and provides a broader understanding of visions and applications of housing strategy within a new urbanist framework. Results of the study show that new urbanism is present planned development code for all four study areas, but affordable housing measures are limited. State law plays a significant role in undermining cities ability to implement affordable housing policies. As a result, cities in Tennessee need to focus on policy improvement, funding, and coordination with non-profit organizations to better implement affordable housing in their communities.

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