Character-Based Zoning- Phase 2: North End and Islington Street Corridor

In April 2014, Portsmouth adopted its first character based zoning district in the downtown.  The goal of the project was to protect the heritage of the City's built environment by providing appropriate development standards for future infill and redevelopment projects. Compared to conventional zoning, form-based zoning creates "Character-Based Zoning Districts" which focus less on specific land uses, and instead emphasize building placement, scale and design. The project focused on issues that affect the form and character of the downtown, including building height, volume, scale, massing and architectural design.

After successful adoption in the downtown, the City of Portsmouth is now in the process of developing Character-Based Zoning for the next two areas of the City: The North End and the Islington Street Corridor.  The City has once again contracted with the firm Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC) to produce the new Character-Based code. 

Click on the tabs below for the project schedule, documents, and meeting videos.
  • Project Schedule
  • Documents / Maps
  • Meeting Videos
  • News Release
North End Charrette Schedule (Located at the former Portsmouth Herald Building at 111 Maplewood Ave, Portsmouth)


Charrette Events for the North End - Opening Presentation 11.10.14

Charrette Events for the North End - Public Pin-Up and Review 11.12.14


Charrette Events for the North End - Closing Presentation 11.13.14

Character Based Zoning-Phase Two 9.23.14

City to Host Second Character-Based Zoning Charrette

October 30, 2014

PORTSMOUTH, NH – In April 2014, the City of Portsmouth adopted a "character-based" zoning ordinance and established several character districts in the downtown.  Compared to conventional zoning, which is primarily use-based, this zoning is form-based -- emphasizing building placement, scale and design.  The City is now in the process of expanding the character-based zoning approach to the North End and the Islington Street corridor, both of which include parcels with a high potential for redevelopment in the future.  The City has once again contracted with the firm Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC) to assist in visioning and ordinance drafting.

The process of creating specific development standards for the North End and the Islington Street corridor will involve a number of public meetings and forums for all interested parties to share their vision for these two areas.  The planning process began with a Kick-off Meeting on Tuesday, September 23rd. Since that time, Brian Wright, from TPUDC, has commenced the data collection and mapping process needed for the North End visioning and design charrette which will take place from November 10th through the 13th at the former Portsmouth Herald Building at 111 Maplewood Ave. Parking for the charrette is available on the parking area located on the north side of the building (away from downtown), on-street, as well as at the 299 Vaughn Street parking lot across the street. 

The four-day visioning and design charrette will begin with a public presentation on Monday November 10th at 6:00 p.m. The opening session will include an opening presentation and a hands-on workshop exercise for participants.  On the second day, Tuesday November 11th, there will be three roundtable discussions.  The first discussion will be held at 10 a.m. and focuses on businesses, land owners and developers within the North End.  The second discussion starts at 1 p.m. and looks at building scale and design issues.  The final discussion starts at 2 p.m. and covers  public streets, infrastructure and civic spaces.  All meetings are open to the public.  An open studio also allows members of the public to stop in at their convenience to engage in the process and contribute their ideas.  The third day, Wednesday November 12th, will include a public pin-up and review session at 6:00 p.m. where the consultants will present ideas and alternatives and gather feedback from the public.  The final day of the charrette, Thursday November 13th, will include a work-in-progress presentation at 6:00 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers.  This session will describe the preliminary vision plan for the area, explain the elements of the plan, and present other findings and work products developed during the charrette.  This presentation also offers the public another opportunity to provide feedback and shape the final vision for the North End.  For a complete schedule of the charrette events please see

Following the charrette, the consultant will prepare a draft of amendments to the Character-Based Zoning Ordinance.  The draft ordinance will be vetted through the Planning Board and ultimately the City Council public review process. 

A similar visioning and design charrette for the Islington Street corridor is planned for late February, 2015.

Additional information about the project is posted on the Planning Department's website at If anyone has a particular question or comment regarding the project or the draft zoning amendments, they are invited to contact the Principal Planner, Nicholas Cracknell in the Planning Department at or (603) 610-7328.

Phase 1: Character-Based Study Area for the North End