Comprehensive Plans

Comprehensive Plan Update

New Hanover County will be going through an update of the county's Comprehensive Plan over the next couple of years. Public input will be an important part of the process, and numerous engagement opportunities will be held beginning in 2024 to receive the community's feedback.

You can find the presentation describing the updated project framework delivered to the Board of Commissioners and Planning Board at the August 29, 2023 Joint Work Session here and the video of the full work session here.


To receive email updates throughout the Comprehensive Plan process, sign up here.


October 2023 Update

 The first project associated with the Comprehensive Plan Update will be an amendment to the policies for the Western Bank area across the river from downtown Wilmington. Planning staff presented the initial concepts for that amendment at the October 16, 2023, Board of Commissioners meeting. Staff is moving forward with the project based on Board direction and more information will be shared in future updates. The presentation and full report for the Western Bank Study can be viewed below.

 Past reports related to this project can be accessed below.

2016 Comprehensive Plan

In 2016, New Hanover County adopted its first Comprehensive Plan, Plan NHC, to serve as the county's official guide for decisions about land development outside of the city limits. Plan NHC charts the course for New Hanover County's next 25 years of economic development and land use.

Plan NHC was developed over three years, with citizen input helping to guide the county's goals for the future. Plan NHC details current conditions and long-term trends in population and land use, and it describes how the county can reach its vision through development patterns, infrastructure, and programs.

View Plan NHC

New Hanover County's Comprehensive Plan is organized into chapters that represent each phase of the project. You can view the Comprehensive Plan (PDF).

Future Land Use Map

The Future Land Use Map is used to guide decisions on rezonings and development regulations. It shows what type of development would be best for different areas of the county outside of city limits. These different types of development are called "place types." The County has included an online webmap for viewing the Future Land Use Map.


Plan NHC describes the strategies and guidelines the county will use to implement the plan's 21 goals. Each year, an action plan will be updated with staff's short-term, mid-term, long-term, and ongoing efforts. Completed items will be taken off the list and new projects will be added as conditions change.

2016 Action Plan

Major initiatives from the first Action Plan include the Parks (PDF) and Gardens Master Plan and Unified Development Ordinance Project.