E-Planning and Public Participation: Addressing or Aggravating the Challenges of Public Participation in Planning?

Mhairi Quiroz-Aitken

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The challenging nature of public participation in planning has been well-documented and there are frequent observations that this does not go far enough. Accordingly, since the turn of the century attention has turned to the ways in which public participation might be strengthened and improved through e-participation methods. This article aims to explore the extent to which e-planning methods address the long-standing challenges of traditional participation approaches. The article discusses some key themes within the planning theory literature relating to public participation and focusses on two important challenges which are summarised as: 1) Whose voices are heard within participatory processes, and how can less articulate voices be supported? And 2) Who controls participatory processes and to what extent, and in what ways can power be devolved to public participants? Developments in e-planning go some way to addressing these challenges; for example in opening up new channels for public participation and removing barriers to participation. However, e-planning certainly does not represent a panacea and requires critical reflection to ensure that it does not aggravate, rather than alleviate, these problems. For example, reliance on ICTs may risk leading to new inequalities in access to planning systems. Furthermore, questions relating to who participates, and who controls participation in planning processes remain relevant and pressing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of e-Planning Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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