Participation is part of city planning
Residents have such knowledge of their city that city planners and other experts do not have. Their knowledge and views are often based on personal experiences, and we can use them in city planning. Through interaction with residents, we are able to plan a better Espoo.
In Finland, municipal residents have a legal right to receive information on and contribute to land use planning. This also applies to other people and parties affected by land use planning in a specific area. These affected parties include residents’ associations and other communities, entrepreneurs and landowners.
In Espoo, the City Planning Department is in charge of detailed planning and master planning. You can participate in the preparation of plans and contribute to the city’s development in many ways.
How to participate in the planning process
City planning steers the city’s change. Master plans and local detailed plans specify what can be built in a certain area, how transport will be organised, where recreational areas will be and so on.
The process of preparing a master plan or a local detailed plan includes several stages. Through these stages, a plan develops and can be influenced by residents.
Plans are published on the city’s website during the different stages of the process. This is known as a public review period, during which residents can comment on the plans. They usually have 30 days to submit a written opinion or objection. The planners must go through the residents’ feedback and take it into consideration in the planning process.
However, you can contact the planners at any point to ask questions about a plan or to share your views.
Plan webpages are the main source of information
When a planning process starts, we open a separate webpage for the project. The page in English provides the most important information about the plan: what is being planned, where and who you can contact. You can also see if the plan is available for public review or if a residents’ event is coming up.
The planning materials, background reports and other documents can only be found on the Finnish page. These documents are so extensive that it is not possible to translate them.
Various types of residents’ events
The City Planning Department organises events where residents can hear more about a planning process and discuss it with the planners. These events include information and discussion events, workshops, and walks in the planning area.
We provide information on residents’ events on Espoo’s event website, on the city planning website, on the project webpages and through Espoo’s social media channels.
Face-to-face and remote participation
The coronavirus pandemic forced us to switch from traditional residents’ events to virtual events. For many residents, a virtual event is more convenient than a traditional discussion event. They can attend an event more flexibly in the middle of their daily activities and, if necessary, watch presentation recordings later.
Even after the pandemic, it is our aim to keep using the best virtual event practices. We also have to make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate. Not all face-to-face events can be replaced, as on-site walks and many workshops work best when people actually get together.
Welcome to our events
At least for now, our residents’ events are held in Finnish. However, you should not hesitate to come and talk to us. You can ask questions and share your comments in English if it is more natural for you. At our face-to-face events, our planners are usually present half an hour before the event starts, so you can talk to them before or after the event if you want.
Surveys collect background information for planners
We also collect residents’ views on their local environments through surveys, such as digital map surveys. Through surveys, our planners obtain more information than could be collected by other means. Digital survey material can be easily linked to planning systems and other materials that planners use in their work. This allows us to make best use of the survey responses in planning.
In the autumn of 2020, we carried out the My Espoo on the Map survey to find out residents’ experiences, views and development ideas. The material we collected covers the entire Espoo, and we will utilise it in planning for several years.
Participation in city planning requires time and an understanding of the process. Our aim is to make participation easier, for example by providing easy-to-understand information on city planning, our activities and plans on our website.
People have different experiences, needs and interests. It is a challenge for our planners to make sure that the residents’ diverse views are heard in an equal manner. Land use planning is a process of examining and coordinating different perspectives. Local residents’ experience-based knowledge is one piece in this puzzle.
Interaction is also being developed
The City Planning Department’s staff includes interaction and participation specialists. Their job is to promote the participation of all Espoo residents. They prepare residents’ events, stay in contact with various networks and develop cooperation with residents.
You can contact us if you would like to give feedback or share your development ideas concerning city planning and participation.