Planning Board Special Permits

Visit the Special Permit Cases webpage to search for Planning Board special permit cases by address, keyword, or date; find the latest plans and documents for projects completed or under review; and learn when the Planning Board will next review a special permit case. 

Locations of all completed special permits and those active special permits either under construction or granted but not yet built can be found on the Special Permits Map. Select a permit to learn more and find links to relevant documents.

How to Apply for a Planning Board Special Permit?

Many development projects in Cambridge require special permits. Both the Planning Board and Board of Zoning Appeal (BZA) issue special permits. This page provides information about the application process specifically for Planning Board special permits. You can find out which kind of special permit your project needs by checking the Zoning Ordinance.

Please contact Swaathi Joseph at 617-349-4668 or with questions about Planning Board Special Permits.

If you need a special permit from the BZA, please contact the Inspectional Services Department at 617-349-6100.  

Ready? Set. Go!

Applying for a Planning Board special permit requires a lot of planning and attention to detail. This page is a reference to help guide you through the process. Contact CDD staff if you have questions or need clarifications.  

We have broken the process down into three phases: Ready, Set, and Go.  


This is where you do your homework to determine what you need for your proposal. They’re called special permits for a reason, they’re not one-size-fits-all! Here are steps you can take to get ready:

  • Research your zoning district(s) – either via Cambridge Cityviewer tool or Zoning Maps webpage
  • Determine your use type 
  • Look up relevant zoning requirements  
  • Determine what special permits are needed for your proposal (there may be more than one!). The Zoning Ordinance records if a special permit is granted by the Planning Board or the BZA 


While we can’t fill out your application for you or tell you what kind of special permits you will need, you can (and should!) consult with City staff about your project. After you have done your research, you should: 


Once you have met with City staff and updated your draft submission based on their feedback, you are ready to submit the final application for a Planning Board hearing! After you submit your final application you will: 

  • Receive a public hearing date
  • Post a notice at the location
  • Attend the Planning Board meeting

See Review Process for more information about these steps.

Learn about submitting a 3D Model of your project.

Relevant Documents

For More Information

Zoning and Development Division in Community Development Department (CDD)

Swaathi Joseph