What is the Worcester Now | Next Citywide Plan?

The Worcester Now | Next Citywide Plan is a planning tool known as a Comprehensive Plan. A Comprehensive Plan provides a framework and roadmap for a city’s growth and development and are often referred to as “Master Plans”. The document is designed to provide a basis for decision making regarding the long-term physical development of the city.  Comprehensive Plans are required by state laws and must include topics such as land use, housing, economic opportunity, natural and cultural resources, open space and recreation, services and facilities, and transportation and mobility.  

What can’t the Citywide Plan do/address?

Comprehensive plans like the Citywide Plan are not meant to be a granular study of every issue, but rather a framework plan that sets the city up to conduct further studies that go into more detail on specific topics or focus on smaller areas. While Now | Next will cover a broad range of topics, building off the specifics of many recent planning initiatives like the Cultural Plan, Green Worcester Plan, Integrated Plan, Open Space and Recreation Plan and many others, it may also delve deeper into certain areas and identify areas that need further in-depth study. 

What topics will the Now | Next Citywide Plan address? 

Worcester Now | Next will explore topics such as land use, housing, economic opportunity, natural and cultural resources, open space and recreation, services and facilities, and transportation and mobility.

Read about the topics here.  

How can I get involved?

Thanks for your interest! Check out the Get Involved section, or the Events section.  Additionally, more information will be added to the website as the planning efforts progress. Sign-up to our email list to stay informed.

Who is part of the Planning Team?

The City’s Planning and Regulatory Services Division is working with an interdisciplinary team of consultants, led by planning firm, Utile. The consultant team includes:

  • Utile (Urban Planning and Design)
  • HR&A (Economic Analysis and Strategy)
  • Rivera Consulting (Equity and Engagement) 
  • Nelson Nygaard (Transportation Planning)
  • Brown Rowe Richardson (Open Space and Landscape)
  • Community Organizer (support Community Engagement) 

Learn more about the planning team here

What is the timeline for this process?

The City will undertake a 18 month-long process guided by equitable community engagement. The process began in January 2022 and is anticipated to conclude in May 2023.  The proposed process intends to deliver a plan that is exhaustive, actionable, and supported by the community.

  • Phase 1: Listen, Learn, Test (January 2022 – September 2022)
  • Phase 2: Evaluate, Prioritize, Document (September  2022 – May 2023)

For a complete description of each of the two phases, check out the schedule by clicking here.

This effort will be conducted in collaboration with other ongoing plans and projects to ensure alignment and enable other efforts to respond to and integrate interim findings of the Now | Next plan prior to its completion.

What is the approval process for Worcester Now | Next?

Massachusetts law designates a community’s Planning Board with the responsibility for oversight and approval of the final plan. Worcester Now | Next will additionally be presented to the City Council for comment and consideration of endorsement.

How will the Now | Next Citywide Plan be structured? 

Worcester Now | Next will be a guiding document that stitches together policy, recommendations, and goals based on previous and on-going planning efforts and community goals and vision. This plan will serve as a long-range plan that knits together past, present, and future initiatives across the entire city.

The Now | Next plan is intended to include sections such as: 

  • Shared Vision — Community goals and visions for the City of Worcester
  • Guiding Values — Principles that will guide decisions around investment and development across Worcester.
  • Roadmap —  A clear path towards implementation of key priorities, actions, and recommendations within the plan.
  • The Pilot Project — A sub-area plan template that will set-up an actionable framework for development of future neighborhood scale plans.

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