Context for Participatory Planning

Germany’s public participation was derived from its representative democracy. Both mandatory (formal) and voluntary (informal) public participation in broad aspects were developed during the last three decades (Levytska & Zapototska, 2017; Selle, 2010).

Within the institutional framework, requirements for public participation are clearly stated. For example, in 2012, the “Law for Broadening the Public Participation and for the Standardization of the Procedures for Determining Sectorial Plans” was introduced in the German legislature that requires public participation prior to the formal opening of the procedure for planning and approval of sectorial plans (Bothe, 2018). Moreover, in 2013, the Association of German Engineers developed standards governing the communication and public participation in planning and building infrastructure projects. These standards indicate several mandatory procedures in the regional planning and approval processes including: scoping the previous and present participation (both formal and informal) of the public and their interaction, conducting official investigation to show just cause for projects, establishing online searching platform for plans information to the public, requesting and enabling public participation periodically with the planning processes (ibid.). However, federal level laws and local regulations have different level of details. The Spatial Planning Federal Law only determines the bases of requirements and leaves the responsibility of determining whether public participation is demanded in regional planning processes to the lower level authorities – the State’s legislator. Six out of sixteen States in the country have set public participation as an obligation on the local administration, while the other States decentralised the decision-making rights again to the lower level — project administration on a case-by-case basis (ibid.).

In terms of informal participation, various participatory methods have been applied in both government-led and self-organised activities. In 2008, Berlin citizens stop the original Berlin Tempelhof Airport development plan by collecting 200 000 signatures and holding referendum (Levytska & Zapototska, 2017). In another city, Leipzig, government works with citizens in the project “Leipzig weiter denken”. Various methods e.g., competitions, surveys, exhibitions, participatory budgeting, digital planning workshops, online discussion, etc., were used in the project (City of Leipzig, 2021). However, despite the good examples of government-led and self-organised activities, the material conditions (financial and personnel) of the non-governmental organisations are deteriorating. As a result, many of the members of these organisations felt that their work has no or extremely small influence on decision-making (see Bothe, 2018). Therefore, financial support, for at least a portion of the cost, to the citizens’ organisations is considered necessary (Bothe, 2018; Independent Institute for Environmental concerns 2013; 69th Meeting of German Lawyers 2012, p. 52).

  1. 69th Meeting of German Lawyers—69. Deutscher Juristentag (2012) Theses of the experts and speakers, Thesen der Gutachter und Referenten, Ziekow, Jan, pp 41–43; Dolde, Klaus-Peter, pp 43–45; Gabriel, Oscar W., pp 46–49; Wegener, Bernhard W., pp 49–52.
  2. Akmentiņa, L. (2020). Participatory planning in post-socialist cities: a case study of Riga. Architecture and Urban Planning, 16(1), 17-25.
  3. Bäcklund, P., & Mäntysalo, R. (2010). Agonism and institutional ambiguity: Ideas on democracy and the role of participation in the development of planning theory and practice – the case of Finland. Planning Theory, 9(4), 333–350.
  4. Bothe, A. (2018). German law covering the public participation in planning and building infrastructure projects. In Modeling Innovation Sustainability and Technologies (pp. 121-136). Springer, Cham.
  5. City of Leipzig. (2021). Official website for the City of Leipzig. Retrieved 17th, September, 2021,
  6. Haveri, A. (2006). Complexity in local government change: Limits to rational reforming. Public Management Review, 8(1), 31–46.
  7. Hirvonen-Kantola, S. & Mäntysalo, R. (2014). The recent development of the Finnish planning system. The City of Vantaa as an executor, fighter and independent actor. In Reimer, M., Getimes, P., Blotevogel, H. H., (Eds.) Spatial planning systems and practices in Europe. Akademie für Raumforschung und Landesplanung. Routledge, New York, 42–60.
  8. Horelli, L. (2002). A methodology of participatory planning. In Handbook of environmental psychology (pp. 607-628). Wiley.
  9. Independent Institute for Environmental concerns (2013) Unabhängigies Institut für Umweltfragen, Public participation in environmental protection in Germany—Status Quo and new ways, Öffentlichkeitsbeteiligung im Umweltschutz in Deutschland—Status Quo und neue Wege.
  10. Kahila-Tani, M. (2015). Reshaping the planning process using local experiences: Utilising PPGIS in participatory urban planning.
  11. Koroļova, A., & Treija, S. (2019). Participatory budgeting in urban regeneration: defining the gap between formal and informal citizen activism. Architecture and urban planning, 15(1), 131-137.
  12. Levytska, O., & Zapototska, V. (2017). Public participation in urban planning: German and Ukrainian experience. J. of Geography and Environmental Management, 45(2), 18-27.
  13. Mart, H. I. O. B., & Nele, N. U. T. T. (2016). Spatial planning in Estonia–From a socialist to inclusive perspective. Transylvanian Review of Administrative Sciences, 12(47), 63-79.
  14. Mäntysalo, R., Tuomisaari, J., Granqvist, K. & Kanninen, V. The Strategic Incrementalism of Lahti Master Planning: Three Lessons. Planning Theory & Practice 20, 555-572, doi:10.1080/14649357.2019.1652336 (2019).
  15. MRL (1999). Maankäyttö- ja rakennuslaki 28.5.2015., (1999).
  16. Perjo, L., & Fredricsson, C. (2017). Redeveloping brownfields in the Central Baltic region.
  17. PRILENSKA, V. (2020). Games for Enhancing Stakeholder Participation in Spatial Planning–The Cases of Riga and Tallinn.
  18. Prilenska, V., Paadam, K., & Liias, R. (2020). Challenges of civic engagement in the (postsocialist) transitional society: Experiences from waterfront urban areas Mezapark in Riga and Kalarand in Tallinn. Journal of Architecture & Urbanism, 44, 109-121.
  19. Ruoppila, S. (2007). Establishing a Market-orientated Urban Planning System after State Socialism: The Case of Tallinn. European Planning Studies, 15(3), 405–427.
  20. Selle, K. (2010). Gemeinschaftswerk? Teilhabe der Bürgerinnen und Bürger an der Stadtentwicklung. Begriffe, Entwicklungen, Wirklichkeiten, Folgerungen.
  21. Tallinn. (2021). Tallinn, Planeeringud, Üldplaneeringud, Linnaosade üldplaneeringud (Tallinn Planning Department information portal). Retrieved 14 September 2021,
  22. Treija, S., & Bratuškins, U. (2017). Participatory Planning: The Role of NGOs in Neighbourhood Regeneration in Riga. In Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity: Fostering the European Dimension of Planning: Lisbon AESOP Annual Congress 2017: Book of Proceedings (pp. 609-616).
  23. Treija, S., & Bratuškins, U. (2019). Socialist Ideals and Physical Reality: Large Housing Estates in Riga, Latvia. In D. B. Hess & T. Tammaru (Eds.), Housing Estates in the Baltic Countries: The Legacy of Central Planning in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania (pp. 161–180). Springer International Publishing. 3-030-23392-1_8
  24. University of applied sciences, Hochschule Darmstadt et al. (2008) Final report on the analyses: evaluation of the federal environmental impact assessment act, Abschlussbericht zum Vorhaben, Evaluation des UVPG des Bundes