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Historic Preservation Planning for Local Communities

A Typical Planning Process

Step 10. How Will We Revise Our Plan?

Planning is a dynamic process. ÖThe incorporation of [new] information is essential to improve the content of the plan and to keep it up-to-date and useful. New information must be reviewed regularly and systematically, and the plan revised accordingly.
              [Secretary of the Interiorís Guidelines for
              Preservation Planning, Review and Revision section]

Reasons for Revising the Plan

There are a number of reasons for revising a plan, such as:

  • The goals and objectives may have been accomplished, and the plan is no longer a useful guide to decision-making.
  • The planís information is out of date, so the plan is no longer a reliable guide to decision-making.
  • New issues and trends are facing historic preservation, and the plan provides no guidance for decision-making related to these issues and trends.
  • There have been major changes in laws, regulations, or conditions affecting preservation that dictate updating the plan.

Scheduling the Plan Revision

The plan should be revised at the end of its planning cycle. Ideally, the revised plan should be in place when the old planís planning cycle expires.

Planning Cycle Duration

Several factors should be considered in deciding the length of the planning cycle:

  • Benefits in coordinating with other local planning and decision-making cycles, such as those for budgeting, elections, or other local government planning efforts, such as the comprehensive plan.
  • The length of time it might take to show some progress toward meeting plan goals. Many historic preservation activities can take several years to accomplish, and many of the factors that influence our ability to preserve significant properties take a long view to the future. It would, therefore, be important for the preservation plan to have a similarly long view.
  • Generally, the longer the planning cycle, the more general the planís goals and objectives. Such generality can provide flexibility in responding to opportunities or emergencies. On the other hand, this generality can limit the plan's effectiveness in guiding decision-making. With a longer planning cycle, there can be fewer opportunities to engage the preservation community, stakeholders, and the general public in discussing issues and visions for preservation of valued resources, unless these opportunities are carefully built into the implementation monitoring process. Further, it can be all too easy to let a ten- or fifteen-year plan gather dust on a shelf.
  • A shorter planning cycle can create opportunities for the plan to be more strategic, focusing on key critical issues, accompanied by detailed goals and objectives that can be achieved within a five- to seven-year planning cycle.

Many preservation plans use planning cycles of 5 years, but your local situation may require a cycle of 10 or 15 years for compatibility with the land development process, which can often take this long or longer to complete.

Plan Revision Process

Revising the local preservation plan generally follows the same steps used to develop the plan.

Additional assessments, however, will likely be needed, such as:

  • Analyses of historic and cultural resource information acquired since the plan was produced,
  • An examination of new issues, threats, and opportunities,
  • An assessment of the continued validity and relevance of the existing document, and
  • A review of the progress made in achieving plan goals.


Select from the menu links on the left for additional guidance, examples of local preservation plans, sources of additional information, and tips on what you can do to promote preservation planning in your community.


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