With the dawning of the new year and the holiday season well in the rear-view mirror, we’re looking ahead to the roll out, later this spring, of character-based zoning in Portsmouth’s Northern Tier and reflecting on the unprecedented process that’s informing this work.
As one of the preeminent architecture firms in Portsmouth we take pride in engaging with the community on development and design matters at every opportunity, but the City’s November 2014 planning charrette for the Northern Tier neighborhood was of particular interest to us. With one current project smack in the middle of Portsmouth’s burgeoning Northern Tier and a handful of others on the outskirts, our team had a presence all week long at the various planning sessions.
Among the most prominent subjects under discussion for this downtown neighborhood that appears to be on the verge of popping were issues of building height, lot density, the desire for mixed income developments and public space along the waterfront, and the question of appropriate architectural style for a neighborhood whose historical context was all but decimated by urban renewal projects.
Unlike the often rancorous debates that take place on any given evening within the City Hall chambers, thanks to the skilled efforts of the team at Town Planning & Urban Design Collaborative, this week-long event had a more convivial tone, a staggering amount of public participation, and the apparent outcome of bringing various constituency groups together and toward some degree of informal consensus. Of course the rubber doesn’t hit the road till later this spring when the zoning is introduced and voted on but for now we’re pleased with the process and staying hopeful about the results.
For more information on the process and to see the preliminary vision plan, click here.