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Early citizen dialogue in Swedish urban planning

Can it be justified?

Time: Thu 2024-05-23 09.00

Location: Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm

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Language: Swedish

Subject area: Real Estate and Construction Management

Doctoral student: Anna Hrdlicka , Lantmäteri – fastighetsvetenskap och geodesi

Opponent: Associate Professor Michael Tophøj Sørensen, Aalborg University, Denmark

Supervisor: Professor Peter Ekbäck, Lantmäteri – fastighetsvetenskap och geodesi; Professor Annina H. Persson, Lantmäteri – fastighetsvetenskap och geodesi

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QC 20240426


One of the more significant and longstanding discussions in urban planning concerns civic participation in physical planning. However, despite the issue being discussed since the 1960s, the question remains about the impact of these ideas. Does it work as the legislator once intended here in Sweden? Does citizen dialogue lead to influence in physical planning?

The thesis examines if, why, how, and when Swedish municipalities engage in early dialogue. Through interviews with decision-makers and officials in 79 Swedish municipalities, as well as gathering documents from the selected municipalities, answers to these questions are sought.

The theoretical part focuses on the development of Swedish legislation in the planning area regarding civic participation. This is reflected through reports and preparatory work, with particular focus on the period around the 1960s and 1970s. The theoretical framework further illuminates the development of citizen dialogue in literature and practice. Examples of structured work on complex issues are drawn from other sectors.

The results indicate that the consultation according to Chapter 5 of the Planning and Building Act (PBL) has not functioned as intended. Swedish municipalities struggle to apply early dialogue, which occurs outside the framework of the PBL, to the plans being prepared. Municipalities lack functioning processes to carry out citizen dialogue and implement the results, and political governance is unclear. Several municipalities choose informal planning instruments outside the PBL.

The conclusion is that citizen dialogue should be carried out in connection with planning programs and with a more stringent structure inspired by other sectors. Municipalities should refrain from informal planning instruments. Further research should delve into questions of structure and effective processes.