Comprehensive Planning Best Practices

By Scott Sherrill, UNC MPA Student

A comprehensive planning process should be just that, comprehensive. Best practices include elements on the process side and elements on the content side. On the content side, comprehensive plans should take into account the environment, the economy, and equity; they should also include specific plans for implementation. On the process side, the comprehensive planning process should seek to involve, fairly, as many community members as possible. More specifically, David Godschalk and William Anderson, in their upcoming work Sustaining Places: The Role of the Comprehensive Plan, recommend that the goals and policies of sustainable comprehensive plans follow eight principles:

  1. Livable Built Environment:  ensure that all elements of the built environment, including land use, transportation, housing, energy, and infrastructure, work together to provide sustainable, green places for living, working, and recreation, with a high quality of life.
  2. Harmony with Nature:  ensure that the contributions of natural resources to human wellbeing are explicitly recognized and valued and that maintaining their health is a primary objective.
  3. Resilient Economy:  ensure that the community is prepared to deal with both positive and negative changes in its economic health and to initiate sustainable urban development and redevelopment strategies that foster green business growth and build reliance on local assets.
  4. Interwoven Equity:  ensure fairness and equity in providing for the housing, services, health, safety, and livelihood needs of all citizens and groups.
  5. Healthy Community:  ensure that public health needs are recognized and addressed through provisions for healthy foods, physical activity, access to recreation, health care, environmental justice, and safe neighborhoods.
  6. Responsible Regionalism:  ensure that all local proposals account for, connect with, and support the plans of adjacent jurisdictions and the surrounding region.
  7. Authentic Participation:  ensure that the planning process actively involves all segments of the community in analyzing issues, generating visions, developing plans, and monitoring outcomes.
  8. Accountable Implementation:  ensure that responsibilities for carrying out the plan are clearly stated, along with metrics for evaluating progress in achieving desired outcomes.

Based on these metrics, comprehensive plans which embody all or almost all principles include: Albany, NY ; Philadelphia, PA; San Diego County, CA; Fort Collins, CO; Marin County, CA; Seattle, WA; Keene, NH; Burlington, VT; Union County, PA; and Cleveland, OH.

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One thought on “Comprehensive Planning Best Practices

  1. Pingback: Planning for Sustaining Places |

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