Planning Department

Planning Notifications 

Proposed Parking Ordinance Changes

The City is proposing to update its parking ordinance. Please see the two documents below— the first is the current ordinance, the second is the proposed ordinance—to examine the suggested modifications. A presentation on this topic will be given to City Council on July 10th at their 6:00 p.m. work session meeting. Any comments can be submitted to the Planning Department by calling 393-8836, or by emailing project manager Brian Swets at

Parking Zoning Ordinance Current

Parking Zoning Ordinance Proposed

Comprehensive Plan Update - Build One Portsmouth

The City has released the third draft of the D-2 Land Use Study.  Please click here to read the plan and submit comments. 

Portsmouth is updating its Comprehensive Plan!  Please check out for more information, including dates for our public meetings, opportunities to provide your opinions, and updates on our progress.  You can also contact Brian Swets at or 393-8836 x 4237 for more information.  

Another View Radio Show Interview 

Core Services

In support of achieving this mission, the Department consists of six core service areas:
  • Current Planning (including review of site plans, subdivisions, rezonings, use permits and certificates of appropriateness)
  • Environmental Planning (including Chesapeake Bay preservation and flood plain management)
  • Transportation Planning and Implementation
  • Historic Preservation
  • Community Planning and Development (CDBG and HOME programs)
  • Long Range, Comprehensive Planning and Implementation

Staff Support

The department also provides staff support to a number of City Council and Circuit Court appointed boards and commissions including the Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), the Downtown Design Committee (DDC), and the Wetlands Board. Staff also provides support to the Urban Design Committee, Cradock Advisory Group, Truxton Advisory Group, and numerous other Boards and Commissions. Further, the department represents the City at the regional and state level on issues such as Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act and transportation planning through the Hampton Roads District Commission (HRPDC) and the Hampton Roads Transportation Planning Organization (TPO).


By local, State and Federal law, the Planning Department provides the following services:
  • Processing applications for Use Permits and Rezonings,
  • Processing applications for the subdivision of land,
  • Processing applications for Code Amendments,
  • Processing applications for construction projects in Historic Preservation areas,
  • Processing applications for construction projects in the Downtown Districts,
  • Site Plan and Landscape review,
  • Administering the VDOT required 527 TIS Program,
  • Enforcement of Chesapeake Bay Protection Area regulations,
  • Enforcement of Virginia Wetlands regulations,
  • Enforcement of Historic Preservation District regulations,
  • Enforcement of the Downtown Design District regulations, and
  • Maintaining and updating the City of Portsmouth Comprehensive Plan.


In addition, the Planning Department is also responsible for developing the 5-year Consolidated Plan and Annual Action Plan for addressing Housing needs within the City. The Community Planning and Development Program (CDBG, HOME) includes oversight of sub-recipients, approval of all HUD programmatic and financial related budget expenditures, preparation of HUD reports, acting as City liaison to HUD, and participating and supporting city-wide agencies as it relates to Community Development.