- Spurring the community involvement in planning - lessons from post-socialist cities   click here to open paper content489 kb
by    Lorens, Piotr & Kamrowska-Zaluska, Dorota | plorens@pg.gda.pl   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Community involvement in planning in case of post-socialist cities was
until recently almost non-existent. But in recent years the development of
demand for more public participation is dramatically increasing. This needs
the creation of new types of planning tools as well as the introduction of
innovative techniques of conducting the community dialogue.
Public participation and community involvement in planning processes is –
in general – not a new topic for contemporary planners. But in many parts
of the world – including the post-socialist countries like Poland or Russia
– we can still face the lack of understanding of importance of proper
community involvement in planning and development processes. Situation in
these countries is significantly different from both highly-developed
countries (where we can observe many forms of participation and the need
for this is in principle commonly accepted by all stakeholders) and
developing ones (where the key issues are frequently associated with
providing basic infrastructure or upgrading the very unprivileged areas).

The post-socialist countries are frequently regarded as relatively well
developed and can be characterized as “rich” from the perspective of many
other ones, but in fact they are still on the fast track on the way towards
redevelopment of its urban structures. This is accompanied by rapid and
frequently disordered urbanization, which is happening in the realities of
“liberal model” of spatial development. At the same time the local
communities get very much interested in the development process and are
looking forward towards being accepted as equal or even key partner for
other stakeholders. This does not come along with the ability of discussing
the problems and dilemmas of spatial development - and this is both the
problem of local municipalities, interested local communities and other
stakeholders – like i.e. developers and investors. Therefore, we have to
face the situation in which the partners are not ready to discuss the
development and planning issues, which partly comes from the present
liberal paradigm and partly from lack of conducting the public discourse in

In this case planners have to take the leading role in the process and come
with the innovative – at least in post-soviet realities – planning tools
and techniques, allowing introduction of the public participation process
in a way acceptable for all key stakeholders. One of these are the
“planning workshops”, similar to known in the highly developed countries
“charrettes”, which allow discussing the PROBLEM and which prevent jumping
directly to the discussion of pros and cons of some proposed solutions
(which usually are unacceptable for some of the partners/stakeholders) and
– in result – prevent unnecessary miscommunication and sometimes even
public quarrels. The paper will discuss the Polish and Russian experiences
in this respect – meaning the outcomes of some attempts towards
implementing these “planning workshops” in the post-socialistic realities.
It will be developed on the experience of the author, who was personally
involved in preparing and developing of these workshops for a number of
municipalities and problem areas. On this basis some more general
conclusions regarding the applicability of this methodology will be drawn
and presented.
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