Planned communities are carefully thought out new towns or developments on previously undeveloped sites. All the building and organisation is planned before development begins. This is in contrast to how towns and cities usually develop, which is more organic and ad hoc. Planned communities exist the world over and a certain degree of planning can be seen in certain very ancient cities.
A modern planned community has a number of pros and cons, and some work much better than others. There are also several things that will be seen as disadvantages by some yet advantages by others.
A planned community, if designed well, can be exceptionably safe, easy to walk around, and very attractive. Most include areas of green spaces, and even nature reserves. It has been shown that green spaces do much to improve the emotional and even physical well being of a population.
Planned communities tend to be practically self contained, with schools, parks, shops, doctors, vets, restaurants and entertainment facilities all close by. Residents do not actually need to leave for the necessities or pleasures of day-to-day living. With most facilities within walking range there are more opportunities for exercise and less need to drive.
On the downside, the first major drawback is that a planned community consists of a large number of people who don’t know each other all forming a new community at roughly the same time. This contrasts with most communities, which consist primarily of people who have been there for a long time, with a small percentage of new additions every year.
This is quite a stable structure and the established sense of community does not change over the years. However a large group of strangers do not naturally form a ‘community’ immediately, although they sometimes do far quicker than you might expect. For this to happen the initial planning is of great importance, as are the expectations of those who move in.
Another possible drawback arises mainly from poor planning. A large new development needs the infrastructure for water, plumbing, and, nowadays, a reliable electrical supply. If problems are encountered with any one of these the results can be at the least very uncomfortable for the residents and in the worst cases result in outbreaks of disease.
Finally the very thing that can make a planned community safe and aesthetically pleasing can be seen as a serious drawback by many. Modern planned communities, especially in the United States, usually have a very strict set of rules and regulations. Practically everything, from the colour of your house to what kinds of pets you have, may be controlled. Some people like this. Others find the uniformity stifling.
A planned community may be the perfect environment for some people while others may feel controlled and uncomfortable. Before moving to such a place, think carefully about what you really want from a neighbourhood and whether or not the benefits of a planned community really do outweigh the disadvantages for you.