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Participatory local governance and transport planning

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/01/2001
<mark>Journal</mark>Environment and Planning A
Issue number3
Volume33
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)431-451
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

In this paper we evaluate the experience of public participation in local transport planning in the United Kingdom. In the context of a new emphasis on participation in central government policy rhetoric and planning guidance, we examine the rationales, methods, and outcomes of recent public participation initiatives. Through drawing on a questionnaire survey distributed to all English highway authorities and a content analysis of provisional local transport policy documents, we explore not only the extent of activity and innovation in public participation, but identify and reflect upon the failures of current practice and the barriers which constrain further development. We conclude that, although examples of at least partial success in developing carefully conceptualised, inclusive, and meaningful participation programmes can be identified, most have been grounded in political expediency. Motivations for seeking public involvement have been instrumental in nature rather than drawing on wider substantive and normative arguments. It is suggested that issues relating to both the supply of opportunities and the level of demand have a role to play in understanding and potentially resolving current barriers to involvement. However, we also stress the need to step back from this dualistic analytical framework and instead to consider the significance of the broader political context and motivations for public participation. It is concluded that future developments in public participation will need to move beyond innovation in terms of technique alone, increasingly to engage with issues relating to the purpose of participation, the management of process and outcomes, and structural conditions which influence individual decisions about 'taking part'.