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  • Toikkanen, Tommi (2022)
    My master’s thesis addresses the status of participants in urban infill aiming projects of local detailed planning and framework planning. Urban infill (complementary building) is emphasized in Finnish urban planning while the practices of participatory planning have been developed. However, ambiguous Land Use and Building Act causes ambiguity also for the definition of participants and for public participation. Therefore, it is reasonable to study which issues affect to the definition of participants’ status based on the practical planning cases. My research questions are how the status of participants is defined in the planning projects and by which ways practices to define the status of participants differ between the processes of local detailed planning and framework planning. I examine the phenomenon based on expert interviews and the documents related to public participation phase. The aim of my thesis is to perceive factors and practices affecting to defining the status of participants. In addition to increased meaning of participatory planning, urban planning related decision making is decentralized to more parties meanwhile growth is being pursued in urban regions as part of the world of global competition. Thus, many stakeholders with their own interests are involved to plans, which can be seen by the practices to do urban planning. I examine my research questions through the four planning theories: rationalistic, incremental, communicative-collaborative and agonistic. Planning theories form frameworks whose realization I reflect based on the data gathered of the local detailed plan of Länsi-Herttoniemi and the framework plan of Tikkurila. My qualitative thesis is a case study based cross-sectional study in which I have gathered the data by semi-structured expert interviews and document analyses. The analyses of the data consist of the three themes: the defining the participants, the choosing and using of participatory methods, and the defining the status of participants. Regarding the analysis of expert interview data, I also examine the meaning of the contextual nature of projects related to the defining the status of participants. Document analyses reflect the public perspective on the status of participants transmitted by urban planners which I compare to the findings of expert interview analysis. My thesis reveals that in practice, the concept of participant can be used to refer to separately defined project related parties defined in the public participation plans (PPP) or to all participating parties in the planning process. As conclusions, I propose that in the context of the chosen planning projects, the status of participants has been defined in practice based on 1) the definitions of the public participation plan by affecting to knowledge brokering, 2) differences between the participants, 3) participation at the early phase of the planning process, and 4) in accordance with comment valuation practices of participants’ comments. To fulfill democratic values of urban planning, there is a need for more unambiguous definitions for both, the principles of participative actions, and the status of the participants.