Community Goals and Objectives

To write a new Comprehensive Plan we started by getting your feedback on what Durham’s future goals and objectives should be. These goals and objectives will guide how the plan is written, what recommendations are included in the plan, and it will also guide decisions for new development that is happening now.

The Community Goals and Objectives for the Comprehensive Plan were adopted by the City Council on June 21 and the Board of County Commissioners on June 28!

Jump to Adopted Goals & Objectives

Community Goals and Objectives Writing Process 


Download the Writing Process (PDF)

In the Listening & Learning phase, Durham residents gave us a lot of feedback. Over 1,000 residents told us what they wanted in an ideal Durham and what else was on their mind about Durham. With so much information we asked ourselves:

  • How do we listen to, respect, and honor the voice of residents who’ve been disinvested in and actively harmed by planning in the past?
  • How do we turn that lived experience into community goals?

We started by sorting information into groups. We gave each group a name to describe what residents were talking about. We looked at residents’ quotes in these groups to find patterns and stories. We asked ourselves: What are the stories that are beginning to emerge from all these voices? We asked questions about each group of resident quotes.

First, we asked about the story:

  • What are residents saying? What are we hearing? 
  • What brings these patterns together? What unifies them? 
  • What does this pattern mean? 
  • Why does this matter to residents?

Second, we asked about equity:

  • Who is benefitting from the way things are and who is burdened? Why? 

Third, we asked about policy:

  • How does what residents are saying fit into a comprehensive plan? 
  • Can we make policies about these objectives? 
  • What could these policies look like at a neighborhood level and at a county-wide level? 

We wrote draft objectives from the answers to these questions. We added more perspectives along the way from the Youth Listening Project and the Durham City and County Resident Survey.

We intentionally wrote in the voice of residents, who provided the source material for these objectives. Each objective starts with “we need,” to reflect the voice of residents.


  • We need communication and engagement processes that are accessible, transparent, equitable, convenient, and representative of community input. Engagement efforts need to prioritize and be designed specifically to address the needs and concerns of those who are most likely to be adversely impacted by government initiatives. 
  • We need options for renting and owning homes that are accessible, stable, maintained, and consistently affordable to a variety of income levels. 

We have shared the draft objectives with residents in small focus groups, Engagement Ambassadors sessions, and a digital engagement platform and are working on refining and updating them.

These objectives are stories about the kind of future our residents want to build for Durham.

We have worked to hear, understand and respect resident voices and the stories they have to tell.  In this current phase of engagement we are working to hear residents’ perspectives on how to better reflect their needs and priorities in these drafts.

We want the goals and objectives of the Comprehensive Plan to reflect our shared values as a community and for these values to guide how we build our future together.

Adopted Goals and Objectives (PDF Downloads)

Download full document here

Sense of Place Goal

By 2050, the history and culture of Durham will be more fully and equitably told, acknowledged, and celebrated. Residents can remain rooted in their neighborhoods and connected to their communities and those histories. Neighbors will benefit from the stability and resiliency of living in diverse, multigenerational, and interdependent communities.

Community Relationships Goal

By 2050, Durham’s local government will engage the community intentionally, consistently, and equitably to build relationships and community capacity. Local government, including elected officials, will be accountable to the community in its commitment to equitable engagement, actions, and outcomes.

Housing and Neighborhoods Goal

By 2050, Durham residents will have access to safe, affordable, healthy, and physically accessible homes in neighborhoods that are connected to the resources they need to thrive.

Transportation Goal

In 2050, Durham residents will have safe, affordable, dignified, sustainable, connected, and physically accessible transportation to move around Durham.

Environment Goal

By 2050, Durham will be a carbon-neutral, biodiverse community that balances preservation and restoration of the natural environment with sustainable and harmonious development. Durham will prioritize the health and well-being of residents by correcting environmental racism, connecting people to nature, and ensuring access to healthy food and prioritize the health of the environment, as it has a direct impact on the health of residents.

Jobs and Training Goal

By 2050, Durham residents will have access to affordable and supported training opportunities that lead to a variety of stable and sustainable living-wage jobs.

Public Spaces and Recreation Goal

By 2050, Durham residents will be able to enjoy public spaces that are physically accessible and equitably distributed throughout the community. Recreational opportunities will be affordable, culturally relevant, and designed by and for residents.

Education Goal

By 2050, Durham schools will be integrated into neighborhoods, equitably and substantially invested in, and well-maintained. Durham students, parents, staff, and the community will have access to shared resources, through schools that center their health, safety, and well-being.

Health and Well-being Goal

By 2050, all Durham residents will live healthy lives in the “City of Medicine,” prioritizing their health, well-being, and resiliency. The well-being of young people and our elders will be invested in so that they feel valued, empowered, and have a place in Durham’s future.