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3 ways to involve citizens in land use planning

  • Tuesday, January 28, 2020

  • Involving the inhabitants in the construction of the city seems to be obvious today. However, the practice can be tricky for elected officials. This new collaboration inevitably shakes up their communication, analysis, and organization habits. Fluicity's role is to facilitate the implementation of this constructive dialogue, so that everyone can find their place. Discover the experience of several municipalities that have used citizen consultation to implement a relevant and sustainable land use policy.

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    #1. Getting citizens to validate development projects

    Municipalities know their territory well. But how can they ensure that their priorities meet those of their citizens?

    To secure the scope of action, Thionville and Woluwe Saint-Pierre have chosen to submit their projects to the citizens before implementing them.

    Organize a survey on the project

    "For or against free Wi-fi to revitalize the city center?". Thionville organized a simple citizen consultation in the form of a survey to be sure of the relevance of its project.

    With 80% of positive answers, the municipality was able to validate its hypothesis and convert its budget to a really useful measure for the citizens.

    Questioning citizens on a specific point of the project

    In Woluwe Saint-Pierre, a Belgian municipality in the Brussels-Capital Region, scooters were invading the sidewalks! The municipality decided to create dedicated drop zones. But where to set them up? The opinion of the main users (the inhabitants) was solicited on Fluicity to define this important point.

    Simple to set up, this citizen consultation is also beneficial in the long term. It favors inhabitants' adhesion to the proposed service and the respect of the future infrastructures.

    #2. Organize a call for citizens' ideas on land use planning

    The next step in involving citizens in the co-construction of the city is to give them the microphone. The call for ideas is a strong and enriching process. It clearly expresses the municipality's intention to involve its inhabitants and allows for the realization of a first barometer of their expectations.

    In Ganshoren, the launch of Fluicity in the city was immediately followed by a call for ideas on land use. The benefits were immediate:

    • 450 inhabitants of Ganshoren registered in two months,
    • 70 citizen ideas posted in 3 months,
    • 3 citizen projects** validated by the college of mayors and aldermen, and realized in 2020.

    A perfect example of consultation that benefits everyone and allows the dynamic of co-construction to be broken in.

    #3. Set up a participatory budget.

    The participatory budget is a continuation of the call for ideas. Citizens propose development ideas according to a defined budget and vote for their favorite projects. Each one is responsible for his idea, until its realization. Citizens are thus confronted with the financial and decision-making reality of the field.

    The format, the budget and the scope of the participatory budget are left to the initiative of the elected officials.

    Allowing the financing of several projects

    With 50,000 euros of budget, the citizens of Ciney had the choice to propose all their ideas on Fluicity, then to vote for one or several of them. This very open approach allowed to finance 4 territorial development projects.

    Valuing the creativity of citizens on a specific development project

    Thanks to the citizen consultation, the municipality of Wavre in Belgium was able to identify a very specific expectation of the inhabitants: create a new playground. What better way than to ask them to imagine their dream playground? The citizens were able to put their creativity to work to propose different playground formats.

    The municipal planning experts followed their proposals closely to discuss their feasibility, in an active co-construction approach.

    Read the full story of the Wavre participatory budget [].

    CRead our CEO's interview about Participatory Budgets.

    There is no magic recipe to involve the inhabitants in the development of the territory. Each municipality has its own strategy, its own scope of action and its own expectations. Behind the expression "citizen participation" are hidden a multitude of possible actions: from the simple survey to the large-scale project.

    Yes, this necessarily implies a new dynamic, but in no case a loss of reference points. The relationship will develop step by step, over time and through dialogue. Just like in real life!