The Comprehensive Plan is now in the formal adoption processStaff is working to archive this website to document the engagement and planning process. Some information on this page may be out of date or reference a project phase that is now complete. For the most up-to-date information on the Comprehensive Plan, see the Adoption Process page 

Southeast Durham Focus Area

The Draft Southeast Durham Focus Area for the Comprehensive Plan was presented to the Planning Commission, City Council, and County Commissioners on  September 14, 2021 and October 4, 2021 for feedback. Staff is using these draft recommendations to review cases in this area now.

Jump to the draft recommendations

The Southeast Durham Focus Area is a part of Durham’s new Comprehensive Plan. Durham City Council asked the Planning Department to focus on this area of Durham first to provide early guidance before the entire Comprehensive Plan is adopted.

The purpose of the focus area is to:

  • Apply the plan’s goals and objectives to a specific area;
  • Understand what residents see as existing needs and priorities for the area;
  • Understand what land uses (types of housing, locations of new stores, environmental protections) residents want to see; and
  • Recommend new future land uses to inform zoning and annexation requests

What is a focus area?

A detailed look into an area of Durham to understand what existing issues residents face. Focus Areas help form new land use designations and policies that can be applied in this area and potentially other geographically similar parts of Durham.


Where is This Area?

This area is bounded by Sherron Road, Highway 98, Carpenter Pond Rd, and U.S. Highway 70, and is primarily the area to be served by the city’s new Southeast Regional Lift Station.

Southeast Durham Study Area Map


Why this area?

In recent years, there has been a lot of development interest for this part of Durham. There continues to be many requests before Planning Commission and City Council to change the zoning of property in this area and requests to annex property into the City limits. This development activity is in large part due to the city’s construction of new water and sewer infrastructure that will serve this area. Because of this, the Durham City Council asked the Planning Department to focus on this area of Durham first to provide early guidance before the entire Comprehensive Plan is adopted.

What decisions have been made by the City?

Every property in Durham has a zoning designation that says what is allowed to be built on that property. Zoning provides rules for things like how tall and wide buildings can be, what type of homes, businesses or green spaces are allowed or required, how many and what kinds of trees should be planted or preserved, and more. A property owner may request to change the zoning of their property so that they can build a new type of development (like changing a property from residential to commercial) that follows different zoning rules.

City Council approves or denies requests for properties to change the zoning or be added to the city limits (called annexation). City Council holds public hearings to listen to cases made by property owners, development teams, and residents. City Council relies on staff, residents, and other agencies and organizations to help guide their decisions. Planning Department staff use the 2005 Comprehensive Plan to see what the community has said is the ideal future land use for the property.

In the Southeast Durham Focus area, many properties are already built, approved for new construction, or are currently being reviewed.

Southeast Durham Area Development Activity Map


The city has made significant infrastructure investments in this area to handle new and future developments:

  • The Southeast Regional Lift Station is under construction and will provide a new lift station and pipes to provide sewer service to the area.
  • Durham Fire Station 17 was built in 2018 to provide EMS and Fire service to this area.

Why do we need a new guide for future land uses in this area?

The current Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2005, has this area largely designated for suburban residential development. This means that new developments proposed in this area are envisioned by the current Plan to typically be single homes on medium or large lots.

However, many new developments being built to date seem to be inconsistent with the values of today’s elected officials and community members. New developments tend to be exclusively single family homes, townhomes, and age restricted housing (also known as 55+ older homes), development that encroaches on streams and sensitive environmentally areas, traffic that puts a strain on existing two-lane roads, and nonexistent bus service. Current policies in the 2005 Comprehensive Plan do not adequately address the development, transportation, and environmental concerns for this area.

2005 Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map


New Development Activity Types Since 2010 Map


Engagement Process

The place types and policies developed from this work will remain in draft form, and staff can begin to use this guidance immediately to inform decisions about rezoning and annexation requests in this area. In using the interim recommendations, staff may discover that further  refinements are needed or that certain issues should be worked out or improved for the larger Comprehensive Plan.

Below you will find links to the engagement summary for the Southeast Durham Focus Area, a spreadsheet of the engagement input, and a meeting recording for more information about the focus area.

Draft Recommendations

Below are the PDF downloads for the Draft Place Type Guide, Draft Place Type Map, and Draft Policies.

Draft Place Type Guide [PDF Download]

The Place Type Guide is a list of all the types of places the community would like to see in the future, including a description of how each place will look and function in the Southeast Durham Focus Area.

Draft Place Type Map [PDF Download] or [Link to interactive map]

The Place Type Map is a geographic depiction of how the community has said it wants to look over the next several decades. For example, the map shows where the community wants houses, stores, businesses, or schools to develop, or where to protect farmland and green space.

Draft Policies [PDF Download]

Policies work towards implementation of the Community Goals and Objectives, identifying tools and strategies to work towards the outcomes residents want to see in Durham’s future.