July 19, 2022
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — The Chesterfield County Department of Planning has received the 2022 Old Dominion Innovative Approaches Award from the Virginia chapter of the American Planning Association (APA) for its groundbreaking Rockwood Special Focus Area Plan.
The Innovative Approaches Award recognizes pioneering planning efforts across the commonwealth. Nominees may include innovative planning processes, plans, programs, initiatives or site developments that already have produced results or are considered likely to do so in the future.
The award was presented Tuesday during the chapter’s annual conference in Richmond. Drew Noxon, principal planner, served as project manager for the Rockwood Special Focus Area Plan and was present to accept the award on behalf of the Planning Department, along with Planning Director Andrew Gillies and Clover Hill District Planning Commissioner Gloria Freye.
“We are thrilled to be recognized by our fellow planners throughout the state,” said Gillies. “The award is especially sweet because this was our first attempt to create a Special Focus Area Plan. Our staff did a great job crafting a thoughtful document that was well-received by the community, and one that will provide a pathway to reinvigorating the area near a cherished public asset in Rockwood Park.”
The Rockwood Special Focus Area Plan was approved by the Board of Supervisors in April 2021 and incorporated into the countywide comprehensive plan.
A special focus area plan is a long-range document that provides detailed development guidance to areas currently undergoing or having a high potential for change, with an emphasis on redevelopment strategies and placemaking.
The Rockwood Special Focus Area Plan serves as a guide for the revitalization of aging shopping centers located at the intersection of Hull Street and Courthouse roads.
Chesterfield’s vision for the area is a walkable community, with a mix of residential, commercial and entertainment uses that would benefit from proximity to the 171-acre Rockwood Park – the county’s oldest and most frequently visited public park.
The Rockwood Special Focus Area Plan recommends a variety of land uses and housing types, new greenways along stream corridors and an interconnected grid system of streets to better distribute traffic, as well as a network of bikeways, trails and pedestrian corridors to bypass the main intersection and increase connectivity to Rockwood Park.
It includes realistic, phased redevelopment concepts that provide flexible options for implementation, addressing economic feasibility, natural resource conservation, sustainable urban design and efficient land use.
Planning staff drafted the Rockwood Special Focus Area Plan and received approval from the Board of Supervisors in about 13 months, an expedited time frame that has positioned Chesterfield to be more agile in addressing the Rockwood area’s changing dynamics.
“This plan has already begun to be implemented in one of the key sites in the core area and has promoted major changes in the area…the Rockwood Special Focus Area Plan has already shown real results,” said Nick Rogers, vice president of external affairs for APA Virginia.