City-County Planning Department


The Durham City-County Planning Department is the professional planning agency for the City and County of Durham. The Department helps plan and direct Durham’s vision for growth that supports a high quality of life, a robust economy, and a sustainable, inclusive, equitable, and accessible Durham for generations to come. We work with the community and other agencies looking for solutions to today’s land-use and community planning challenges. The Department also takes the lead in reviewing development proposals and enforcing adopted ordinances and plans.

For more information, go to Learn More and discover more about Durham City-County Planning and common topics involved with the planning process.


The Durham Planning Department offers a variety of services to help manage land use throughout the City of Durham and Durham County. Below you will find resources to better understand various Rules and Regulations regarding ordinances and enforcement, information about Zoning and Property Information, how Approval Processes and Inspections are conducted, and to apply for a Development Application or Permit. Our resources are designed to introduce important common topics in local planning and assist the community with navigating application and approval processes. 

Icon graphics of an email, phone, and form to contact the planning department



Due to the current and upcoming vacancies, within our organization, Durham Development Services has temporarily revised review timelines for several approval processes. Please see the 2023 Development Review Timelines (PDF) for more information.

Zoning and Property Info: Interactive Maps, Online Engagement Sites, Public Records
Approval Processes and Inspections Application Approval Processes Concept and Presubmittal Meetings
Rules and Regulations: Development Regulations, Guides, Zoning Enforcement, and Other Rules
Applications and Fees All Planning Related Applications and Forms How to Submit and Pay Applications

Special Projects and Important Resources

New Durham Comprehensive Plan

Durham Comprehensive Plan Cover Opens in new windowAfter three and a half years of staff working with the Durham community, a full draft of the new Comprehensive Plan is available for review and the public hearing and adoption process began in February of 2023. The Comprehensive Plan is Durham's statement of how we want to grow and develop. The plan guides where and how private development should occur. It guides how the City and County should provide public facilities and services to support future growth. The plan is long range in scope, focusing on the ultimate needs of the community rather than the pressing concerns of today.

Growth Management Engagement Initiative

A screenshot of the Durham Land Use Social Pinpoint mapping application. Opens in new windowThe Durham City-County Planning Department wants to hear from you about how we should improve the way land use cases are processed. Land use cases include zoning map changes and annexation petitions. We have heard from our community that the current processes need to be changed to better serve both community members and applicants.  

The purpose of this engagement initiative is to:

  • Learn from Durham community members and applicants, prioritizing historically marginalized and underrepresented voices 
  • Educate our community on how land use decisions are made and how community members can influence new development being proposed today 
  • Incorporate community voices and experiences into the development process

There are several steps on the path forward to making the land use engagement initiative successful, and we’d like to invite you to be a part of this collaborative journey. 

Engage on Proposed Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) Text Amendments

A Text Amendment is a proposed change or revision to existing rules or regulations. In Durham, the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) is a tool that regulates what development looks, feels, and sounds like in the City and County. The purpose of the UDO is to promote the health, safety, and general welfare of all Durham City and County residents. The UDO was adopted in 2006, and since then, has needed some periodic updates or improvements, called Text Amendments.  

Text amendments to the UDO can be initiated by a resident or other entities through an application to the Planning Department. Text amendments can also be initiated by the Planning Department, City or County Managers, the Planning Commission, the Board of Adjustment, or one or both of the governing bodies.

Public Records Request

As required by state law, Planning staff will help customers obtain public records related to land development, building inspections, and zoning enforcement. In addition, interested parties can also browse recent development activity, sign up for announcements, and receive notifications when development activity is occurring.

  1. Land Development Office (LDO)
    Used to check the status of submitted applications. Contact Planning Customer Service at [email protected] to create a log-in if you don't have one.  
  2. Durham Maps
    Browse development activity and property information on a map. 
  3. Environmental records
    Information about how to contain records related to hazardous materials and sites.
  4. Minimum Housing Code enforcement is managed by Neighborhood Improvement Services (NIS)—requests for these records should be submitted to NIS through the City's Public Records Request Portal.
  5. Use the Records Requests portal (NextRequest) for all other public record requests not listed above.

Boards and Commissions

Planning CommissionThe Planning Department provides staff liaisons to 6 boards and commissions. Members of these boards and commissions are appointed by the Durham County Board of County Commissioners and the Durham City Council.

Learn More

The Durham City-County Planning Department has gathered additional resources to aid in the development of our community. Click on a topic below to learn more about our department and supplemental planning information:


Parish Street, Durham NCDurham Historic Preservation has been proactively dedicated to the protection and preservation of its historic resources since the 1970s by inventorying historically significant structures in the City and County, designating local historic districts and landmarks, establishing and supporting the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), and nominating properties and districts for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

Learn more about:

Unified Development Ordinance

Adopted in 2006, the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) lays out the rules for the physical development of property. The UDO designates zoning of properties in Durham, and is crafted to result in a built environment that meets the goals of the Comprehensive Plan. The UDO superseded the Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances.

Please click on the following link to access a searchable and navigable version of the UDO, which indicates the most recent “amended date” and includes a list of adopted text amendments.

Role of Planning in Shaping Durham's Future

Are you curious about how our city continues to grow and develop while preserving its unique character? If so, look no further! In this CityLife episode, host Beverly Thompson talks with Sara Young, Director of the City-County Planning Department and Austin Amandolia, Chair of the Planning Commission about the role of these entities and how they are working to guide the growth and development of Durham.