Comprehensive plans answer the questions: where are we now, where do we want to be, and how do we get there. Comprehensive plans—sometimes called general plans or master plans—are documents designed to inform public policies that shape the physical development of a community long term. A comprehensive plan is basically a “blueprint” for land use development and public investments in infrastructure and services. The plan is based on a community vision of the future and includes goals and actions to achieve the vision. It is also based on data and research on many topics to establish current conditions, challenges, trends, and opportunities.
In Virginia, all communities are required to prepare and adopt a comprehensive plan. Every plan must include assessments of existing conditions, growth trends, and the future needs of the community, and provide guidance to promote the health, safety, order, convenience, prosperity, and general welfare of residents. The State Code requires comprehensive plans to include discussions on and assessments of coastal resources management, sea-level rise and recurrent flooding, affordable housing, transportation, and land use. It also directs that comprehensive plans be general in nature: not too specific so as to allow decision makers some flexibility to respond to changing conditions and emerging trends. The State Code does not, however, dictate the structure and format of the plan.
Comprehensive plans are developed under the guidance of the local planning commission and adopted by the governing body (in Newport News, that’s the City Council). The plans are implemented through various tools including the zoning and subdivision ordinances and the capital improvements program. Per the Code of Virginia, comprehensive plans are reviewed every 5 years to determine whether updates are needed.
Visit the City’s website to look at the current comprehensive plan, Framework for the Future 2030
, or to review the progress being made on our update to the Framework, now titled One City, One Future