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RICS Research Trust

26 JAN 2021

Governance of participatory planning for resilient communities

Participatory planning has been discussed and applied since the 1960s, but debates about best practice approaches, barriers and challenges, and democratic legitimacy are still ongoing. In recent years, new participatory models such as co-design and urban living labs have informed the debates about participation. But key questions around the governance of participation remain: who should participate, who can moderate and drive the process and how should participation be conducted? What are the practical implications of participatory planning to build resilience of the communities? The aim of this research is to respond to these questions by exploring the governance of participatory planning as it relates to building community resilience in residential and mixed-use developments.

This research is informed by five case studies of development projects in Melbourne that represent a range of innovative forms of participatory planning, including community-led, developer-led and government-led models. The report concludes with the social implications of these alternative development approaches and presents key lessons for the successful delivery of participatory planning processes.

This report was authored by Bilal Ayub, Nader Naderpajouh and Rita Peihua Zhang, of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology; Sebastian Fastenrath and Lars Coenen, of the University of Melbourne; and Alison Whitten, of Resilient Melbourne.

Professor Sarah Sayce, chair of The RICS Research Trust, said: “ We are delighted to have supported this research into some of the practical issues involved in enabling truly participatory planning processes. Ever since Arnstein’s pioneering work half a century ago, the goal of true participatory planning aimed as promoting social cohesion remains only partially realised.  This work, using the City of Melbourne as its case study provides valuable insights for cities around the globe as they strive to deliver development speedily and efficiently with the need for democratic legitimacy."
The authors of the report added: "With the increasing trend of social and ecological disturbances, there is a need to understand how alternative development models such as participatory planning can inform the way communities develop and impact their resilience. Collective and poly-centric decision making in participatory planning facilitates building resilience of communities through sharing concerns, conveying expectations, and voicing needs but also faces challenges such as resource limitation and longer development process. In this report, the role of participatory planning is explored in the development of new communities that aspire to adapt, survive and thrive in the face of disturbances, understanding that "people come and people go, but the community sense endures."

RICS Research Trust is now the Property Research Trust

This research was funded by the RICS Research Trust. As of the end of January 2021, RICS Research Trust became fully independent of RICS, and has been rebranded as the Property Research Trust. Find out more here . The Trust supports and promotes high-quality independent contributions to knowledge in the disciplines of land, real estate and construction.