Participatory planning processes can have many goals with a variety of communication modes, as well as the decision- making actions taken by stakeholders during such a process.  Parties involved in a planning process have their own goals based on political, cultural and economic factors that are relevant for them. The overall challenge is to define how to support these processes. One approach to tackle this challenge is to make a careful definition of the needs of the intended audience. These needs can be roughly divided into three main orientations that are described below (Geertman, 1996, Wachowicz, 2002). 

Decision-Oriented Approach

The central paradigm in this approach is that planning is a process of choice in a situation of uncertainty. This uncertainty is present in the knowledge of the planning environment.  In this case, one is not sure about the physical and socio-economic structure of the environment and its response upon the actions of actors. The goal of planning is mainly to inform actors about future decision- making and make future operational decisions interpretable

Action-Oriented Approach

In this approach, planning is defined as the result of actions between actors, which are part of the socio-spatial system. Their actions need to be compliant to and embedded in the society. Decisions are based upon interactions among actors. This means that the focus of planning is not per se on a critical evaluation of the spatial organization itself, but on the analysis of the intentional actions and knowledge of the actors involved in planning.
Search-Oriented Approach

The aim of planning as search for direction is not directly to prepare for an operational decision given a well-defined problem, but to reveal alternatives and new solutions outside the direct scope of the observed problems. It is meant for actors to learn and become wiser (Kleefmann, 1984).

Shashikant Nishant Sharma
Urban Planner
{Courtesy: Sharma, S.N. (2012), Participatory Planning in Plan Preparation: A Case of Delhi, Graduate Thesis, Department of Physical Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi}


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