Community Planning: Special Features: The APaNGO project
  • introduction
  • foreword
  • recommendations
  • reports
  • project partners

apango logo

Advocacy, Participation and
Non Governmental Organisations
in Planning is delighted to promote the results of this project which took place during 2005 to 2007.

The APaNGO project was one of the first European Union action research projects on community participation in planning and development. Its underlying philosophy was the importance of fostering constructive community engagement to help deliver sustainable development on the ground.

The projectís central purpose was to provide a better understanding of the practice of community participation as it relates to planning and development. This then formed the basis for making recommendations on how practice can be improved.

Although derived from the experience of North West Europe, the findings of the APaNGO project will be of interest to all European Union Member States and other countries.

Foreword to the projectís final report

This is a hugely important and timely report – not only for planners and developers in the UK, where the Government is addressing an urgent need for more homes to meet the needs of a longer-living and growing population, but also in other EU Member States. Across the Union, from the UK to Bulgaria and from Sweden to Malta, it is no longer acceptable to make decisions from the centre and expect them to be implemented unquestioningly. The legitimacy of any planning decision will vitally depend on the quality of democratic input to the process; without that input, decisionmaking itself will be discredited.

But this raises very difficult questions of the right locus for decisions. Europe-wide and Member State policies for major developments will come face to face with the views of local communities, and at that local level one community may differ entirely in its view from another. We have to rely upon good planning to resolve issues and arguments of this kind. Cross-sectoral working, in which housing associations, developers, local authorities and communities all play their part, is vital to achieving successful outcomes.

This project therefore set out as a partnership between very different sectors, to address these challenges head on. It proceeds through a series of case studies in different Member States. In all such work, the devil is always in the detail, which makes these studies uniquely valuable in demonstrating how to attack the problems and reach viable solutions through better engagement and better dialogue.

The report’s recommendations distil these lessons, providing a guide for central and local governments across the EU to reform and improve their planning processes in the interests of their people and of sustainable development generally.

On behalf of the TCPA, I commend the report and hope that its lessons will be widely read and enthusiastically adopted.
Peter Hall signature
Professor Sir Peter Hall
President, Town and Country Planning Association

The issues raised from the experience of the APaNGO demonstration projects have led to the APaNGO partners identifying the following six key conditions for successful participation in planning:

Recommendation 1
The APaNGO partnership recommends that both voluntary sector bodies and government should recognise a responsibility to provide independent resources for community participation in planning in all major development areas.

Recommendation 2
The APaNGO partnership recommends wider take-up of the use of community media, branding techniques and streetbased and cultural activities where communities judge these appropriate or helpful.

Recommendation 3
The APaNGO partnership recommends that public authorities appreciate the value of community views which are generated in various ways through the participation services it supports. As a result government bodies should better integrate community input in its different forms in the decisionmaking process.

Recommendation 4
The APaNGO partnership recommends that statutory rights in planning for those most affected should be maintained and that agreements on development with communities should be legally recognised wherever possible.

Recommendation 5
The APaNGO partnership recommends that responsible authorities in charge of community participation set out as a priority what can and cannot be changed as a result of the dialogue of participation or involvement.

Recommendation 6
The APaNGO partnership recommends that all those engaged in participation in planning and development should recognise that decision-makers must consider evidence which represents best the variety of interests of current and future communities, including taking into account representations from specific interest groups with particular knowledge.

The APaNGO partners consider these conditions and recommendations to be essential for effective participation in planning, both in terms of creating better-quality planning decisions and outcomes, and in terms of principles of fairness and transparency – all of which are essential in supporting the contribution of planning to sustainable development.

apango logo

download pdf
101 pages A4 606 K
the APaNGO interim report:
advocacy, participation and NGOs in planning

apango logo

download pdf
16 pages A4 356 KB
the APaNGO summary final report:
community engagement in planning - exploring the way forward

apango logo

download pdf
A4 64 page pdf 2.3 MB

full final report:
community engagement in planning - exploring the way forward

Town & Country Planning Association (Lead role)

Brusselse Radd voor het Leefmilieu  (Brussels Environmental Association)

Planning Aid for London (PAL)

Spectacle Productions

Stadsdeel Geuzenveld-Slotermeer (Amsterdam City District)

interreg logo
apango logo
Thanks: This special feature funded by European Union Interreg IIIB

small is beautiful
Last updated on: 03 October 2008