Historic Resource Preservation Planning

Citizens often value the historic resources and landscapes in their municipalities. Historic resources represent links to the community's evolution and sense of identity, help preserve individual neighborhood character, and can provide examples of architecture and construction methods that would not be built or could not be reproduced today. Historic preservation planning provides the municipality with a framework for identifying policies and developing measures necessary to achieve its historic resources and landscape preservation goals. Collectively, protecting resources and their settings provide a holistic mechanism that promotes greater viability, vitality, and continued use of historic resources from both historic and economic perspectives.

This tool can be used to identify and preserve structures and other features that provide the physical representations of where a community has been — its past, its history — by linking that past to the present and preserving it for future generations.

Municipalities can help ensure the protection of their important historic resources and landscapes by engaging in a municipal historic preservation planning program. Following the spirit of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the Pennsylvania History Code, the Pennsylvania Constitution, and other federal and state policies, the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code requires consideration and planning for historic resource protection. Preservation planning can help a municipality ensure that historic resources and landscape preservation objectives are considered during planning and community development decision making.


historic resources

Historic Sugartown in Willistown Township.

Historic preservation planning can provide the following benefits:


historic resources

This is an example of a contemporary reuse of a historic structure; the Foundry Building in Phoenixville Borough.

The following limitations can be associated with historic preservation planning:

Historic Preservation Planning Process

While standard planning principles of goal identification, data collection, resource analysis, strategy formation, and implementation can be applied to historic resources and landscapes preservation planning, the process should be tailored to the individual municipality. Successful historic preservation planning involves linking historic preservation goals to other municipal goals (e.g. community development, economic development, and housing goals), and incorporating historic and community preservation as an integrated element in the municipal planning program via the municipal comprehensive planning process. In this way, potential policy conflicts can be readily identified, discussed, and resolved at the outset.

Broad community input on preservation issues is necessary during the development of a plan, because preservation planning with a narrow perspective may not be credible with the community at large and could consequently result in difficulties upon implementation. The relationship between protecting the local quality of life, the sense of community identity, and preserving historic resources and landscapes needs to be clearly and effectively conveyed and should be emphasized during the planning process. Preserving a community's quality of life can be partially accomplished by preserving those physical features that help create its sense of place and link its evolution and origins with the present. Historic preservation is often key means to accomplishing these types of goal and thus should be viewed as an integral element during the planning process.

historic resources

This is an example of the preservation of a historic site and present day use for community education and passive recreation; Martin's Tavern in West Bradford Township.

Issues to Consider

The following outline describes the individual components involved in historic preservation planning.


Municipalities in Chester County have had success with their historic preservation efforts.

Related References

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