A good street, analyzed

This is Walnut Road in Torquay, England.  This is a small commercial area, set away from the larger commercial and tourist area around the ocean.   It still retains a local butcher and pharmacy, but also at least 4 storefronts are dedicated to real estate offices and another to a mortgage finance office.  This tells me that the area is undergoing gentrification.  It may be inevitable.  This place has good weather, great scenery and an attractive townscape.

The top pic below is a visual analysis of the area’s main street.   This street has a good DNA, which should be replicated in new developments.  It is low energy in that land uses are mixed vertically as well as integrated horizontally, which makes it walkable.  The thermal mass of the attached buildings makes this area more energy efficient.  And it is fairly attractive, meaning that people can make an attachment to the place.  All in all, this is a nice prototype of a neighborhood commercial for an area serving somewhere around 2,000-3,000 people.

(I get that figure from an educated estimate that that this commercial street has about a combined 20,000 square feet of ground floor space and that within a 1/4 mile walking distance (approximately 125 acres), given the type of housing in the area that appears to be around 12 units to the acre and at a density of 2 people per household, that there may be perhaps 2,000-3,000 people within that radius.)

There is a COOP grocery (pic below) that appears to meet most of the day to day food needs of the neighborhood.

street diagram

The picture below shows the grocery for this area.   Despite the “co-op” branding, which would imply local producers and foods, this store sells little that isn’t processed and mass produced.  And in a pitiful effort at catering to at least a few of their customers that will drive, the building is set back from the street , destroying the harmonious townscape effect, while not really providing any amount of real parking space.  The building is also one story, which is alien to the DNA of the rest of the street.  It also looks like a bunker. This is how good places begin their decline.


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