Community Planning and Design Charrette program

Does your downtown, or perhaps a significant neighborhood in your community, need to be different?  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.

Following a rigorous application process, if a community is selected, a team of Plan NH volunteers will come to your community for two days. They will look at the “target area”,  and listen to your elected leaders, business people, municipal staff and community members.  Based on what they see and hear, and drawing on their extensive professional knowledge (architecture, landscape architecture, economic development, traffic engineering, historic preservation, more…) the team will develop recommendations for what could be done to achieve the vision your community has.

Since the first Plan NH charrette saved the Belmont Mill in 1996, Plan NH has conducted 60 charrettes in 57 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 about the program, check back here.   We are developing a handbook for your use. Meanwhile, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 603-452-7526 if you have an idea you’d like to run by us.