Community planning is the process in which the people affected are involved in the planning process at a very early stage. A key element in community planning is to involve the affected locals and communities in the development of a shared vision of the future and of a strategy to make sure that it actually reflects the community’s needs, requirements and views. 
Purpose of the activity
If decision concerning a change in some local issue is required in a settlement or in a part of it, it is of utmost importance to widen the ‘usual’ group of decision-makers (local government or other people in power). Depending on the nature of the change and the sphere of people affected, these people may be made direct participants in the process. This may be a more neutral local issue (e.g. timetable changes in the community transport, shifting the bus stop, a wish to build a playground, etc.) or a more comprehensive one, e.g. municipal development plans or a decision in a regional/national issue
This gives the affected community responsibility and a voice to represent their interests, and enables such information to be integrated in the process that only those affected may have. The normal group of decision-makers is thus indeed extended: members of the local community, or at least their direct representatives, will be invited to join the experts and people in power.
This involvement may be a bottom-up initiative from local citizens and representatives of the civil society, or can occur top-down, on behalf of the organizations and institutions authorized to make decisions. Such an involvement may be launched by common sense, locally adopted practices, initiatives of the locals, or even by legal obligations.
involvement, participation ladder, participation, involvement of the affected
- personal: community developer/community organizer, active, acting members, a moderator/facilitator chairing the meeting
- material: community space (e.g. community house, school, library), stationery, board, post-it blocs, etc.
- financial: room rental fee (if needed)
- the opportunity should arise at the right stage (i.e. at the beginning of the process)
- equality of members, real rights for those affected
- the opportunity of mutual information (transparency)
- all involved need to take part in a learning and socialisation process – i.e. they need to be empowered for community planning. Participation in the process offers this learning on the way.
Apart from these, real community planning takes place if all participants share all the benefits and risks deriving from the shared activities, including the planning process as well.
- Determination and joint will to implement a plan, to initiate some change.
- Recruitment of partners – sustained openness throughout the entire community planning process.
- The suggested ideas should be transformed into a joint plan, with the priorities established.
- Possible external partners can be considered.
- Launching of negotiations.
- If possible, a permanently functioning framework or ‘institution’ (e.g. community council, roundtable or working committee) should be established which guarantees lasting and predictable operation (negotiations, transparency, eventual corrections).
- A continuously functioning communication system is also needed to ensure communication between the participants and information transfer to the outside world.
Applied tools and methods
This task may only be implemented as a process with the following elements: exploration and activation of those affected, preparation of planning: process planning, assessment of the situation, a survey of resources, development of a joint vision and strategy, presentation and learning of planning techniques.
Results, expected outcome
It reveals the real interests of the affected groups, reveals new resources (at the participants’ disposal), creates greater social acceptance for the plan, commitment, i.e. an agreement may be made between the participants (people affected, experts, formal decision-makers).
(Please see our source, the entry ‘Partnership, professional collaboration’ in: IKSZT methodology manual)
-  Sain, M.: Segédlet a közösségi tervezéshez. [Aid to community planning]. 2010, Budapest NFGM, VÁTI Nonprofit Kft.
- Foltányi, Zs. (ed.).: Hogyan varázsoljunk újjá egy közteret? [How to renew public spaces]. Kézikönyv a jól működő közösségi terek létrehozásához. [Handbook for the creation of well-functioning community spaces]. 2008, Ökotárs Foundation
- Péterfi, F.: “Megformáljuk városainkat és aztán azok formálnak minket”. [We shape our cities, and then they shape us]. 2015, In:Civil Szemle [Civil Review] No. 1. https://varosmegujitas.wordpress.com
This article based on the following document: Community development methodological guide