Community Planning and Design Charrette program

Wilton – July 21 and 22 2017

If you’ve never been to downtown Wilton, we suggest you take that detour next time you are driving across 101.  Or make it a destination. it’s not fancy, but has great bones, art studios, a river, some little eateries, a wonderful theater and more.  All within a few hundred feet of each other.

Plan NH toured the downtown, listened to business owners, town leaders and residents, and made recommendations for revitalizing the downtown.  We found most of the critical elements are in place:  the town hall, library, post office and elementary school are all right there – along wih the assets listed above.   Which means people are there.

We gave our recommendations in a presentation on Saturday afternoon, and heard on Monday morning that some of the residents were already off and running.  We think that’s great.  They were ready!


Upcoming charrettes:


  • September 22 and 23, Somersworth NH (revitalize the “Plaza property.”)
  • October 20 and 21:  Kensington (goal:  “improving functionality and usability of its downtown village core in a way that will encourag epeople to gather, communicate, learna nd experience a sense of community pride and togetherness.”


Does your downtown, or perhaps a significant neighborhood in your community, need a change?  Perhaps more walkable, or appealing?  Is there too much through traffic – or not enough?  Maybe you want to make it more lively, or make it once again the place that says “This is my town.”

A Plan NH community charrette may be the assistance you need.

A Plan NH charrette brings together diverse professionals to brainstorm recommendations to address challenges a community faces.  Over a two-day period, the team visits the “target area” (eg, downtown or significant neighborhood), talks with community leaders and members, and develops recommendations based on what they have seen and heard and also on their own professional knowledge of ideas and trends that could contribute to healthy and vibrant communities.

Since the first Plan NH charrette saved the Belmont Mill in 1996, Plan NH has conducted over 60 charrettes in Granite State communities of all sizes.  Some examples of outcomes:

  • In Center Ossipee, a park was created that has become a popular gathering place for locals and summer visitors alike.
  • In Franconia, Plan NH looked at ways to re-design the busiest part of the main street when it was dug up for water and sewer repairs.
  • In Greenfield, the town is taking a new look at its zoning ordinances in the town center – both to encourage infill and to create more housing opportunities, especially in larger homes
  • In Hanover, the town has taken a fresh approach to safety on one of its busiest roads – and a fresh approach to having decent, affordable housing,
  • In Enfield, there had been a long-time issue that was adjacent to our project. With all the focus on our project, the issue was re-defined and essentially became a non-issue.  “All who would benefit, or suffer, from a resolution were at the charrette, being heard, and hearing the choices.”
The biggest impact we have had, however, is in the many communities where, we are told, we have brought diverse people together in a facilitated dialog to talk together about the future of their community.
  • “I had no idea others felt the same way I do”, we heard in Pittsfield.
  • “This was the first time those two groups sat down and talked, ” said a participant in Franklin.
  • “I thought this would be a big waste of time, ” we heard more than once, from (we found out later)  traditional naysayers.  “But I was wrong.  I had no idea it would turn out the way it did.”
 For more information, go here:
 The Plan NH Community Design Charrette Program and Application materials.