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Results from UQ Study into consultation on Sherwood-Graceville Neighbourhood Plan

Submitted by Greg Brown on Sun, 28/07/2013 - 8:00am

Attached is a copy of the final published article that Sean and I completed for Sherwood-Graceville. Feel free to circulate this article among WTSAG members. We think the article objectively represents the results from the study and it asks important questions about future public participation efforts in Brisbane.
This was a case study and there needs to be more evaluation research on public participation in local planning within Brisbane. This was just one "story". There are probably many others out there that are worth telling. I am personally interested in doing a more comprehensive study across Brisbane on the quality of public participation. If you are interesting in collaborating in such a study, let me know.

Webmaster: Various extracts from the text follow:
To cite this article: Planning Practice & Research (2013): Assessing the Effectiveness of Public Participation in Neighbourhood Planning, Planning Practice & Research, DOI:10.1080/02697459.2013.820037
Public participation is important to local planning outcomes but is seldom systematically evaluated using effectiveness criteria. This study evaluates the effectiveness of public participation using the Sherwood– Graceville Neighbourhood Plan in Brisbane as a case study. Effective participation criteria, both process and outcome, were identified from the planning literature and operationalized in a survey of participants. Results indicate that outcome criteria were most important to participants; the participation process was ineffective and ultimately failed to influence local planning decisions. We discuss the implications of participation effectiveness in a planning context where regional plans potentially conflict with local community aspirations.
Keywords: public participation; neighbourhood planning; community consultation; empowerment 

"In this case study, participants perceived an ineffective public participation process, both in process criteria and, especially, in outcome criteria. Respondents perceived community consultation to be tokenistic with negative perceptions of process outcomes including the participants’ ability to influence the plan, the inclusion of local community values in decisions, the failure to reduce conflict and increase trust in local government, and planning decisions not based on consensus."
"These outcome criteria were cohesive as a common factor describing the overall quality of participation outcomes. These outcome criteria were strongly related to overall satisfaction with the participation process. Participants were satisfied with sub-elements of the process (i.e. convenience and comprehensibility of information) but were dissatisfied with the plan outcomes indicating that participant satisfaction is strongly related to the substantive quality of the planning decisions rather than the procedural quality of the process."
"In our case study, an important deficiency was the failure of BCC to communicate to participants those aspects of the plan that could be modified as a result of consultation. Participants did not agree that the ‘Council explained how my input would affect decisions . . . ’ and most important, participants disagreed"
"For context, the BCC is unique within Australia as the only council with
jurisdiction over an entire metropolitan region. While this situation is not unique globally, this urban governance arrangement may serve to heighten tensions that naturally exist between ‘regional’ and ‘local’ public interests in land use."
"This study ventured into the arena of participation empowerment that identified a large gap in participant expectations for the process. Future evaluation research for public participation will confront the challenge of parsing the contribution of participation means (process) versus ends (outcomes) in determining overall effectiveness. Does it make sense to separate process criteria from outcome criteria in the evaluation? Do participants really see process as separate from outcome? Can an inclusive, equitable and empowering process that results in poor planning outcomes for the community be considered effective? Can a participation process that is top-down, exclusive and dominated by interest groups be effective if the planning decisions are highly favourable to the community? Our case study results suggest that perceived effectiveness is invariably linked with process outcomes but we can at least imagine a situation where this does not necessarily hold. Future research should examine how the planning decision space is negotiated and managed in the participation process to increase effectiveness even when planning outcomes appear unfavourable to community interests."

PDF icon UQStudySherwoodGracevilleNP.pdf233.92 KB