Infill Development

Issues Addressed:
Housing Costs Infrastructure Redevelopment

What is it?

New construction undertaken in an already built-up area is often referred to as “infill development.” It generally occurs on underused properties within a downtown or urban core either by reusing existing buildings, developing on vacant parcels, or demolishing existing buildings to make way for new construction. It can vary in scale from a single residential lot to large industrial sites. Infill can also occur in neighborhoods or along commercial corridors, similarly when the site is vacant or underutilized.

Towns and cities in New Hampshire have taken a variety of approaches to encourage infill development. Many use one or more of the tools listed in RSA 674:21, Innovative Land Use Controls, which are discussed elsewhere in this document. Buildings, of course, have a shelf life, just like everything else in the universe.  They are often repurposed and reused (see Adaptive Reuse), but sometimes they are demolished, leaving gaps in our communities. Attracting new development that fits well into those gaps is an ongoing challenge for most cities and towns.

How can it help?

Infill Development can…

  • Encourage more efficient use of land.
  • Reduce negative impacts of vacant buildings and lots.
  • Reduce cost for development and need to extend infrastructure.
  • Lead to more housing options in a community.
  • Spur new investment and help to expand the tax base.
  • Serve as an impetus to clean up contaminated sites.

Getting Started

  1. Recognize and promote infill development’s impact on common master plan goals, such as increased housing options and increased affordability. 
  2. If undertaking a master plan, include infill development as a recommendation.
  3. Identify potential and priority infill development sites. Talk to property owners and developers to gauge redevelopment interest and constraints.
  4. Audit existing regulations to find impediments for infill development.
  5. Consider adopting a fee structure that favors infill development.
  6. Consider infill development incentives, including density bonuses, a streamlined permitting process, and tax relief.
  7. Provide clear rules for building renovations
  8. Draft and adopt amendments to land use regulations to reflect the above changes.
  9. Promote infill opportunities to local property owners and developers.


  • Capital costs are often higher and finance options are limited for infill projects.
  • Clean up of environmental contamination usually requires public investment.
  • Infill developments can be good candidates for a mix of uses, especially in areas that are walkable and have residents to support retail. Encourage or require mixed-use developments in infill projects.
  • Right-sizing regulations may be necessary for projects to fit into the existing character of the area and to pencil out. Many zoning codes do not allow traditional neighborhood development and/or are out of step with real estate economics.
  • Land assembly can be a challenge for some infill projects. Your community should be proactive when opportunities arise, facilitating discussions between stakeholders or even purchasing land for banking or immediate development.