Neighborhood conservation overlays (NCOs) and neighborhood commercial areas (NCAs) are sets of design standards. These standards help maintain an area’s look and feel. In neighborhoods with an NCO or NCA, building alterations or new construction trigger a review. The review considers details such as:
- Building setbacks.
- Cornice lines.
- Landscape features.
- Vehicle access.
- Retail visibility.
- Facade composition and materials.
The Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) staff performs reviews for building projects in all of the City’s NCOs. They also review projects within the Ridge Avenue NCA and the Mount Airy subarea within the Germantown Avenue NCA. All other NCA overlays are reviewed by the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I).
You can request a conceptual review in the planning stages of your project. You might also need an NCO/NCA review when you apply for a building permit.
Community groups, including Registered Community Organizations (RCOs), help write the NCO guidelines. They often ask PCPC staff to inform them of decisions made on specific properties.
Where and when
The PCPC office is located at:
1515 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Office hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There is no charge for a conceptual NCO/NCA review. When you apply for a building permit, the cost of an NCO/NCA review is included in its fee.
Submission materials may vary, depending on the NCO or NCA location and kind of construction intended.
NCO/NCA reviews with PCPC staff can be conducted as an over-the-counter consultation without an appointment, or the review can also be conducted electronically through eCLIPSE. PCPC staff may require a meeting for large or complex proposals. You must bring the following materials to your review or submit them in eCLIPSE:
- Drawings that illustrate the proposed work. These drawings should include facade elevations. They should also include building wall sections, if applicable. These drawings should show significant dimensions and labels for materials, finishes, and colors. Bring multiple paper copies for over-the-counter reviews.
- A site plan that shows the structure in relationship to adjacent structures and the street, and curb cuts.
- Plan and sectional drawings of all roof decks and building setbacks above the second floor.
- Photographs of the existing building or site.
- Photographs of the adjoining buildings on either side.
- A sheet that describes material details. You should include photographs, along with the names of the manufacturers and products. Or, you might bring physical material samples.
- Your building permit application.
After PCPC staff issues an approval, the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I) will continue with the permitting process.