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

Planning Companion

Typical Planning Process
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Step 1.
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Step 2.
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Step 3.
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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 »

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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.1

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  • The planís information is out of date, so the plan is no longer a reliable guide to decision-making.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 little to no meaningful guidance for decision-making related to these issues and trends.
  • There have been major changes in policy, laws, regulations, or conditions affecting preservation in the planning area.

Scheduling the Plan Revision

The most appropriate time to revise the plan is a decision made by the agency or organization that has overall responsibility for the plan. A plan is usually revised in the last year or two of its planning cycle, so that the revised plan is in place when the old planís planning cycle expires.

This is especially important if critical activities or legal compliance depend heavily upon the existence of an official preservation plan. In such a case, it is advisable to adopt a revised plan when the current planís planning cycle expires.

Planning Cycle Duration

The length of the planning cycle should, obviously, be longer than the time it takes to prepare or revise the plan. Several factors should be considered in deciding the length of the planning cycle:

  • Benefits in coordinating with other planning and decision-making cycles, such as those for budgeting, elections, or other planning efforts, such as the local comprehensive plan.
  • The length of time needed to show some progress toward meeting plan goals. Some 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 take 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 the situation in the planning area may require a cycle of 10 or 15 years for compatibility with other planning situations, such as 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.

When evaluating progress that has been made, you may discover that, despite progress, the planís goals havenít been achieved, and the plan revision process may conclude that the goals are still relevant.

If this is the case, the goal statements may be too broad or general to be an effective guide for decision-making or for the length of the planning cycle. It may also be that some objectives may not have been designed to achieve the goals. It would be worth re-examining the issues, threats, and opportunities for insights into fine-tuning the goal and objective statements.


Additional guidance on Revising the Plan can be found in Sources of Additional Information — just click on the menu link to the left.


1Secretary of the Interiorís Guidelines for Preservation Planning, Review and Revision section.

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