National Park Service
Heritage Preservation Services   —   Historic Preservation Planning Program
Phoenix, Arizona Bird's Eye View, 1885

Planning Companion

Typical Planning Process
Introduction »

Planning & Historic Contexts  »

Comprehensive? »

scale »

scope »

Step 1.
Planning for Planning

Step 2.
Creating a Vision »

Step 3.
Understanding the Resources »

Step 4.
Other Planning Factors »

Step 5.
Issues and Opportunities »

Step 6.
Goals and Objectives »

Step 7.
Implementation Strategies »

Step 8.
Producing the Plan »

Step 9.
Implementating the Plan »

Step 10.
Revising the Plan »

Sources of
Information »

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A Typical Planning Process

Step 1. How Do We Do Planning? Planning for Planning

Carefully designing a scope of work for developing the preservation plan — or a "plan for planning" — is a critical step in the overall planning process.

By consciously designing a planning process — or developing a plan for planning — rather than “just doing it,” you can make sure the desired products or outcomes are actually achieved.

A one-day retreat of preservation program staff, or staff and commission or board members, can be helpful in designing the planning process, or redesigning an existing process.

Because the process being designed will affect the ways the public will be asked to participate, it may be important to consult an expert in public participation techniques or involve the public in designing the process.

This approach will ensure that public interests and concerns can be addressed. Including preservation commission members in the retreat could serve this purpose. Full-scale public participation in designing the process may be more than is really needed.

There are several major factors to consider in designing a planning process:

  1. What resources are available?
    • Who will be involved in the planning effort?
      • What staff members?
      • When do they need to be involved?
      • What is the staff size and capability?
      • The key is manageability -- can your staff manage the process?
      • Can you enlist assistance from an advisory board or from a local or state non-profit?
      • What time commitment are commission or board members willing to make?
      • Will some or all of the plan be developed by outside consultants?
      • Who are the public groups that need to be involved?
      • What is the public interest in participating?

    • How much will it cost in terms of time, money, and other factors, such as staff energies and office productivity?
      • Are you willing to pay that price?
      • What will happen if you don't pay that price?
      • What is your office's workload?
      • What can be streamlined or shelved temporarily to allow the planning process to take place?
      • What is your preservation program's budget?
      • Are other funding sources available?
      • How long will the planning process last in weeks or months?

  2. How can you structure the process to get the outcomes you want?
    • Is this do-able?
    • Can this process be carried out with available resources in a reasonable period of time?
    • Are there local or state law or agency requirements that require a certain process be followed?
    • How do other agencies or organizations do preservation planning?
    • Who are the plan's audiences?
    • What are the needs of the plan's audiences and users?
    • How are they going to use the plan? How do we want them to use it?
    • What kinds of information do they need, and in what format so they can use it?

  3. What do you want to get out of the process?
    • What are the outcomes, the products that you want? What do you want in addition to a preservation plan document?
    • What beneficial by-products can you expect, such as staff development and building relationships with other groups?
    • What information will the plan contain?
    • Will the plan comply with applicable planning requirements?
    • What will the plan document look like?
    • What format should you use?
    • How will you define, measure your success?

  4. What information is available for planning?
    • What historic and cultural resource inventories exist for the planning area?
    • Are these inventories up-to-date?
    • How complete are these inventories? What information is missing?
    • Can you plan despite this missing information, or is this missing information so critical that you should postpone planning to obtain it?
    • What other studies and analyses have been done, such as historic contexts, other technical studies, and issues analyses?
    • What other plans affect your planning area, such as a tourism plan or land use plan?
    • What tools and strategies are available for implementing your plan?
    • How can you get the information you need for the planning process?

  5. What other factors should you consider?
    • What future time horizon will the plan address? Will the plan's planning cycle be 5 years, 10 years, or some other time frame?
    • How comprehensive will your plan be?
    • What will the scope of your plan be?
    • What will the scale of your plan be?
    • What legal authority do you have for the plan and its implementation?

  6. What factors should you consider in hiring a consultant?
    • What do you really want from the consultant?
    • What assistance or services can a consultant provide?
    • What role should the consultant play?
      • As additional staff?
      • As an expert with knowledge or skills you don't have?
      • As a collaborator, partner contributing process knowledge?
    • How much can you spend on consultant services?
    • What information should we ask a consultant to provide in a written proposal?
    • What information should we include in a contract?
A Note on Public Participation

Public participation is a key element in all public policy decision-making, including preservation planning.

Not only is public participation a fundamental feature of our democracy, but it makes good sense to involve those who are affected by the plan or whose decisions affect the preservation of our valued heritage.

Participants who have the chance to influence the planning outcome — the plan’s vision, findings, and goals — will take ownership of the plan and support it. The broader the base of support for the plan, the greater the chance it will be accepted and used.

Public means all those who need to be involved in the planning effort outside your office, including……

  • Preservation and cultural resource professionals,
  • Local, state, tribal, and federal government planners who may be among the primary users of the Plan,
  • Elected officials who make decisions that affect resources,
  • Traditional cultural groups,
  • Those whose opinions are generally not known and who have typically not been part of the preservation community,
  • Those who play key roles in shaping public opinion, and
  • Other individuals and groups who may be affected by the planning process and the Plan.

Goals of public participation

  • To provide the public with information so they can understand the process, the issues, and the values, and so they can participate in a meaningful way.
  • To provide full opportunities for the public to affect and influence the planning process and the outcome.
  • To learn from the public about their interests, concerns, and ideas.
  • To build consensus and public support for the vision and goals of the State Plan.

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

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