The Growing Importance of Neighborhood Planning

Neighborhood Planning
Neighborhood Planning

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Neighborhood planning has become increasingly important throughout the United States. Neighborhood plans are becoming more widely known for carrying a greater impact on the quality of life of a community. In fact, the Obama administration recently organized the White House Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative with an emphasis on transforming neighborhoods. Following suit, foundations and Federal Departments (including HUD) are funding Neighborhood Planning efforts. 

What is a master plan? Master Plans cover a wide range of topics and issues related to the growth and development of a community – often over a period of 20-30 years. These plans consider community background and data that focus on the future economic development, housing, recreation and open space, transportation, and land use in an entire municipality and or region. The Plan is comprehensive in scope and its goals and policies are intended to be supportive of one another. The comprehensive Master Plan provides the basis for other plans, ordinances and documents that offer more detailed direction regarding specific activities and requirements. All municipal plans and implementing ordinances are required by law to be consistent with the Master Plan. 

Through neighborhood plans, the value of land, buildings or public investment can be protected and enhanced – which has a positive impact on the quality of life for residents, families and businesses in that community. Community or government leaders can also build and sustain value in neighborhoods. 

The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation is a leader in funding and implementing neighborhood plans. The Foundation’s planning grants support expenses that are essential to the planning process, including dollars for planning consultants and/or staff, outreach and neighborhood organizing functions, and community meetings, and advisory group development. For information about planning funds, plan implementation financing, or other aspects of the Foundation’s neighborhood planning program, see the Foundation’s website at: 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) promotes a similar initiative through the lens of revitalization. Referred to as Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants, this funding opportunity supports the development of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans while addressing three core goals: housing, people and neighborhoods. To achieve these core goals, communities must develop and implement a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy, or Transformation Plan. The Transformation Plan becomes the guiding document for the revitalization of the public and/or assisted housing units while simultaneously directing the transformation of the surrounding neighborhood. For more information on these programs and the funds available, visit the HUD website at: 

As more foundations and agencies seek to fund community development and redevelopment at the neighborhood level, it will be critical that communities have a neighborhood plan and a Master Plan. For municipalities looking to tackle housing, upgrade community facilities or enhance economic opportunities, this path is one worth considering.


This post was originally published in the New Jersey State League of Municipalities website in May 2016.


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