Calgary could soon see the first legal laneway homes built in the city.

Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell says the city will allow the construction of laneway homes along 10A Street northwest as a test case.

Deanne Mudd

Kensington resident Deanne Mudd's plans to build a laneway house have been blocked by zoning regulations in the past. (CBC)

"We're going to look at it as a pilot, so if we can make it work on this street it will work on pretty much any street in a grid type situation," said Farrell.

Laneway houses are small units, usually built above garages and accessible from a back alley. They are also known granny suites or garden suites, although they may be single family residences.

Kensington resident Deanne Mudd has been trying to build a laneway house on her property for years. Zoning regulations have prevented construction in the past, but she is participating in the pilot project.

"We gotta step on it, we need to build our communities, we need to know our neighbours," said Mudd. "To me laneway housing says community."

Attitude change needed, says architect

Mark Erickson is an architect in Calgary who believes in the concept of laneway housing. His firm is designing a laneway house for the Ramsay neighourhood. 

He says it's a matter of changing people's attitudes about where we live and how we get around.

"Calgary needs to start focusing inwards, rather than about constantly expanding," said Erickson.

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A Skytrain passes a laneway house in Vancouver. Laneway houses in Vancouver can have up to 500 square feet of floor space. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Calgary's top city planner is also a fan.

Rollin Stanley says such suites add more density without significantly changing the look of  a neighbourhood.

"This is a natural progression of the housing market and it's a tremendous way to get more housing into neighbourhoods where we already have servicing," said Stanley.

"Laneways are underutilized generally in most urban areas and once we can show some really good examples then we can ease people's fears."

Laneway houses are already well-established in Vancouver where there have been an estimated 1,000 units built.

There is no firm date yet for the start of construction on the laneway houses pilot project in Calgary.