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Historic Preservation Planning for Local Communities

A Typical Planning Process

Step 8. What Will Our Plan Look Like? Producing the Plan

The plan is a physical document that records the findings and consensus reached on the future of preservation for the communityís valued heritage.

Just as there are many different types of planning situations, there are many different types of plan formats. The content of your local preservation plan will depend upon a number of factors, such as the planís purpose and audiences, legal requirements, and local preferences for content.

Typical Plan Elements

Despite the great variation in plans, most tend to contain the following sections or elements:

  • Vision statement.

  • A brief summary of how the plan was developed, including how the public participated.

  • A summary description of the historic and cultural resources in the community, and why they are important, including a map of their locations.

  • A brief assessment of critical issues, threats, and opportunities.

  • Goals and objectives.

  • Identification of the planning cycle.

  • A bibliography of sources used in developing the plan.

Other sections could be included, such as:
  • An executive summary.

  • An introduction, including the authorities for planning.

  • A brief discussion of past and current preservation efforts.

  • A brief discussion of plan implementation strategies.

  • Appendices.

Tips for Writing the Preservation Plan

If you want your plan to be really used, instead of gathering dust on a shelf, you will want to consider the following points:

  • Develop a vision or main message for your plan.

  • Know the purpose of your plan and target data collection to support that purpose.

  • Know the audience for your plan.

  • Include a table of contents and an executive summary.

  • Make major findings and recommendations prominent.

  • Use maps and graphics to summarize findings.

  • Organize and present the planís information so it can be easily understood.

  • Do not overwhelm the reader and obscure the message with too much data.

  • Data should reinforce your planís goals and objectives. If they donít, leave them out.

  • Limit the goals and objectives to those that are definable, concrete, and achievable.

Get Comments on the Draft Preservation Plan

Once the draft preservation plan has been written, you should send it to all those who participated in creating it, and ask them to review it and give you comments. It would also be important to seek feedback from those who didnít participate in the process, but who might be affected by the planís goals and objectives.

This commenting period gives the public, partners, and stakeholders an opportunity to see how their ideas and concerns are incorporated into the draft. It wonít be practical or necessary to incorporate all of their comments into the plan, but it is advisable to carefully consider consequences of ignoring comments from some important groups.

Producing and Distributing the Preservation Plan

After the plan has been produced in final form Ė whether as a stand-alone document, or as an element in the local comprehensive plan Ė it should be widely distributed, or its availability announced. It can also be very effective to post the preservation plan on the local government's web site. As a statement of public policy on historic preservation, the plan should be available to those who need or want to use it.

Consider including the following in your distribution list:

  • All those who participated in developing the preservation plan

  • Local government agencies, including the planning department

  • Preservation and planning commission members

  • Major stakeholders and those who are expected to use the plan

  • Neighborhood and civic associations

  • Public libraries

  • College and university libraries and departments of planning, historic preservation, history, anthropology, etc.

  • Developers and development attorneys

  • Architectural firms and other firms in the historic preservation business

  • State and federal agencies located in the community

  • Tourism agencies, organizations, and businesses


Additional guidance can be found in the Sources of Additional Information and the PLANNING COMPANION — just click on the menu links to the left.

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