Using Multimedia to Encourage Public Participation in Planning and Design Decision-making Processes

By Cletus Moobela and Lamine Mahdjoubi.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The impetus towards public engagement in many spheres of the human existence has evolved over the years from the doldrums of the top-down approaches to current levels of excitement with collaborative planning. One of the fundamental principles of public participation in planning and design is to empower those whom the decisions may affect. It is through such participation mechanisms that the costs and benefits of development are proportionately taken care of. Acknowledging the virtues of public participation in planning and design is perhaps less of a challenge than putting in place the enabling environment and appropriate protocols for tapping the potential of diverse communities. How do we account for language barriers, different requirements, and interests and priorities to ensure that the voices of multiple stakeholders are incorporated into the decision-making processes? Such are neither new nor easy questions as decision-makers across the world have for a long time been grappling with the issues of inadequate participation. Traditional techniques have remained the key participation approaches despite their limitations. This appears like an irony, especially in the face of robust communication tools offered by Information and Communications Technology (ICT). Against the foregoing background, the paper explores the potential of multimedia techniques in encouraging public participation in planning and design decision-making processes. The common barriers and incentives to participation are identified. The paper concludes by establishing a strong case for the adoption of multimedia techniques in breaking the multiple barriers.

Keywords: Planning and Design, Public Participation, Multimedia

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.149-160. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 907.151KB).

Dr. Cletus Moobela

Senior Lecturer, School of Environmental Design and Management, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK

Dr. Cletus Moobela is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. He as previously worked as a Research Associate at the University of Reading, focussing on asset management strategies for social housing and as a Research Fellow at Loughborough University exploring social sustainability assessment. His research interests revolve around the three themes of social capital, complexity theory, and social sustainability as they relate to the built environment. Prior to commencement of his PhD, he had been working as a Lecturer in Property Valuation and Investment Appraisal at Copperbelt University.

Prof. Lamine Mahdjoubi

Professor of ICT in Built Environment, Built and Natural Environment, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK

Lamine Mahdjoubi is Professor of ICT in Built Environment. He is an architect and urban designer by professional background. His research spans the valuation of aspects of the social and environmental function of the built environment, and the development of tools and techniques for that research and for use in decision support. He has held several joint bids, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the British Academy.

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