Durham Planning Academy

Have you ever wondered to yourself….What exactly is zoning and what can/can’t it do? How do things get built in Durham? Why does that building or site look like that? How and why do you plan for something that is 5, 10, or 15 years away? What legal basis does the City/County have to regulate land? How can citizens get involved in planning matters?

The Durham Planning Academy is an interactive four-week course designed to introduce residents of Durham to important planning concepts and procedures. Participants will learn about a variety of planning and development topics, such as the history of city planning, how development projects come together, the laws and court cases shaping property rights and the actions of governments, the role of the Durham City-County Planning Department and other departments, and how to get involved in planning issues in your community.  Upon graduation, participants will have a basic working knowledge of both the theoretical and practical aspects of planning and development in Durham.

Previous semesters of Planning Academy were held in Spring 2016 and Fall 2016. For more information, please contact Matthew Filter, Senior Planner, at 919-560-4137 x 28271.

*APPLY NOW* – Fall 2017 Session 

Applications for the Fall 2017 session are now being accepted! The class will be held during four consecutive Thursday evenings at Durham City Hall (6:00pm – 8:00pm), with the last class culminating in a mock Planning Commission hearing in Council Chambers. Dinner will be provided.

Session #1: Thursday, October 19 (6:00pm – 8:00pm)
Session #2: Thursday, October 26 (6:00pm – 8:00pm)
Session #3: Thursday, November 2 (6:00pm – 8:00pm)
Session #4: Thursday, November 9 -- Mock Planning Commission Hearing (6:00pm – 8:00pm) 

Attendance will be capped at 20 participants. Due to high demand, please only apply if you can commit to attending all four sessions. Preference will be given to Durham residents. Given the introductory nature of the class, those currently in the professional planning and design fields may not find that the classwork suits their needs. 

The application deadline is September 1. Applicants will be notified as to the status of their application by September 15. 

Apply Now

Reference Materials

Documents from previous sessions of Planning Academy are posted below for community reference and information. Please note that this archived material may not be the same material presented in upcoming Planning Academy sessions. Other materials related to the planning field are also included as additional resources.

Fall 2016 – Presentation (Session 1)
Fall 2016 – Presentation (Session 2)
Fall 2016 – Presentation (Session 3)
Robert Caro, “The Power Broker,” Introduction (pp. 1-21)
Robert Fishman, “Urban Utopias: Ebenezer Howard and Le Corbusier” (pp. 19-63)
Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Introduction (pp. 1-25)
Edward J. Kaiser et al, “Urban Land Use Planning,” Chapter 3 (pp. 61-83)
David W. Owens, “Introduction to Zoning and Development Review, Chapter 1 (pp. 1-11)
David W. Owens, “Introduction to Zoning and Development Review, Chapter 4 (pp. 31-52)