Public display

Arguably, the most pervasive method of public participation, which are mandated by law in many countries. A time span of typically one month when the representatives of the public are invited to review the planning document, such as a spatial plan for a certain area, and voice their opinions, comments and proposals concerning it. The contributions may be submitted either in writing or orally during a face-to-face (or online) meeting, which is organised as a part of public display procedure and is referred to as a public hearing. During the meeting the planners present and discuss their plans with the public representatives (Prilenska, 2020).

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Face-to-face, Online, Both
Group size
31 and more
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood, City, Region
Skills required
Basic, Average, Advanced
Resources needed
Low, Medium
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Inform, Consult
Type of knowledge enabled
Divergence (Broad public)
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Initiatiion, Implementation
Methodological approach
Diagnostic, Political

How to use the method

  1. Prepare the materials for the public hearing. The materials usually consist of the graphical and textual information about the plan (land use plan, building regulations, etc.). Upload these materials to the online platform (such as official municipality webpage) and/or print them out and put on display at the municipality planning office.
  2. Decide on the start and end date of the public hearing, the contact person, the days, times, and place, when and where this contact person is available for consultations in relation to the plan.
  3. Decide on the time and location of the public hearing. Public hearing is the meeting between the planners and representatives of the public, where planners present the the plan and public representatives ask questions or express opinions about it.
  4. Advertise the public display and public hearing in the media.
  5. Collect questions, opinions and proposals of public representatives about the plan. Answer the questions. Decide, whether to take into consideration opinions and proposals.

What are the outcomes

Questions, opinions and proposals from public representatives about a plan in an oral or written form

Skills required

Skills required from participants - Basic, Average, Advanced

  • Any representative of the public is invited to ask questions, express opinions and proposals

Resources needed

Resources - Low, Medium

  • An online platform to display information about the plans
  • A room in a planning department accessible to the visitors to display information about the plans
  • A big room for ca. 100 participants with a projector, screen, microphone, loudspeakers and chairs to present plans

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Is resource efficient. No specific preparation is needed. Uses existing information channels and municipal premises
  • Allows any member of the public to get information about the ongoing plans
  • Is intended to merely inform the public about the development plans, rather than actively contribute into plans
  • Requires from public representatives advanced skills and knowledge in planning to meaningfully interpret planning documentation and produce contributions
  • Is often criticised for the absence of dialogue and the superficial nature of participation

Use cases

The usual civic engagement procedure in may Western European countries, which is used for all types of planning documents parallel to other participation methods and tools

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. Prilenska V. (2020) Games for enhancing stakeholder participation in urban planning - the cases of Riga and Tallinn. PhD Thesis. Available at:
  2. RDPAD (2018) Sabiedrība iesaistās Rīgas vēsturiskā centra plānošanas procesā. Available at