Tools for Community Participation

This section presents a collection of tools available to the urban regeneration project team to consider when thinking about the community participation strategy. Meaningful participation implies that the communities’ views are incorporated into the project’s details—and that consultation is not just a step in the process without implications for a project’s design and objectives. For this reason, it is important to establish ground rules, define clear targets, and avoid a reactive proforma process.

The process should be robust enough to enable the local community to have a voice in how their local area will be redeveloped, and comments should be welcomed on a wide range of issues—and not just the narrow options offered by professionals. The community engagement format should make consultations widely accessible and ensure effective and continuous feedback, for instance, by allowing communities to see how ideas have developed during the various stages and ensure that everyone is aware of the progress made. A failure to fully engage the community (through workshops, training sessions, visioning sessions, fact sheets, community meetings, and so on) can lead to delays in the redevelopment process, potential litigation, neighborhood backlash, negative media coverage, and disgruntled project partners.

In the case of Washington, DC’s Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, the participatory planning approach defined implementation. The District sponsored over 30 community workshops and focus group sessions in six neighborhood target areas. More than 5,000 individuals attended these neighborhood workshops. This extensive consultation process was unprecedented and built the community’s confidence in the project. However, while the Santiago Repopulation Program started with an extensive civil society consultation, it was later criticized because the community was not involved during the implementation phase. This led to concerns and oppositions from the local population.

The project team can use different means to communicate and consult with the public. The range of communication techniques used for decision making in an urban project is diverse. In table below, we highlight some of the tools that have been found useful in engaging the public in an urban regeneration project. Further, we present several of these tools in detail.

Table: Public participation tools



Preliminary understanding of situation

Key-person interviews

Stakeholder analysis survey

Opinion survey

Questionnaire survey

Group interview

Focus group survey

Promoting participation

Event (symposium, onsite observation meeting, fair)

Mailing list

Corporate identity formulation


Briefing Open hearing

Open house


Task force

Dissemination, understanding of opinions

Public relations documents (brochures, fact sheets, public relations papers)

Hotlines, comment cards



Information center

Source: Horita and Koizumi 2009.