Public participation in planning in the UK: A review of the literature

Victoria Lawson, Ruchit Purohit, Flora Samuel, John Brennan, Lorraine Farrelly, Saul M Golden, Mhairi McVicar

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

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Despite the fact that community participation is known to have major benefits in terms of resilience and wellbeing there is a general lack of ‘systematic empirical studies on how public participation is practiced. Community Consultation for Quality of Life
(CCQOL) is an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project that seeks to develop a Code of Conduct for inclusive participatory planning. The first stage of the project is this systematic review of the literature on public participation, focusing on the UK since 2010, to which Dr Golden was a co-author and provided specialist literature input into Northern Ireland as well as co-authored editorship on the full document. Dr Golden is the CCQoL Co-investigator for Northern Ireland, working with University of Reading as lead partner and PI, and with collaborating Co-Is from Cardiff University and University of Edinburgh. The national review was guided by questions around how community consultation could: (1) be made more impactful and effective across the diverse policy contexts of the UK; (2) be made more representative and inclusive, including through e-participation; and (3) form a longterm project that fosters ongoing civic debate. While each of the devolved nations has a different approach to planning and participation, summarised in Section 1, the main focus of this account is on England; subsequent regional nation-specific literature reviews combined with primary interview data and lessons from enacted public participation events in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Reading will follow. Participation here encompasses consultation and engagement. There are moments during planning processes when consultation with the community is a statutory requirement, referred to here as consultation. Engagement is about a more relationship with a community carefully built up over time. We recognise that ‘community’ itself is a highly contested word, as are many of the words used in this document. The document is a uniqe collection of literature-based insights from an all-UK perspective; it will be of value to both academics and to political/public-private decision making bodies, and to the wider public who may seek an up-to-date analysis of public participatory practice, focusing on developments post-2010 and with a wider post-1999 Devlolution context.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Commissioning bodyArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Number of pages53
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 29 Apr 2022


  • Public Participation
  • planning
  • built environment
  • Quality of Life
  • Consultation
  • Engagement
  • United Kingdom
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • England
  • Policy
  • Devolution
  • Practice
  • AHRC


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