Appreciative planning

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Appreciative planning is a community focused method for citizen participation in urban planning (public participation or consultation). It is used to collect information from specific key stakeholders, to work out a common vision of the future city, including planning policies, strategic objectives and development management. Participants are encouraged to judge and rate previous planning achievements and to give focus to further planning actions that they deem necessary.[1]

Characteristics of the approach

Appreciative planning has the following characteristics;[2]

  • Inclusive, participatory planning process in/for multicultural metropolitan environment(s);
  • Approach to urban planning based on mutual respect, trust and care-based action in a multicultural context;
  • Two-way learning (officials/planning professionals - citizens) and problem solving approach;
  • Transfer of multicultural assets into planning and city life;
  • Sharing of experience and work between officials/professionals and citizens to benefit the communities;
  • Uniting of rational and less rational processes of social interaction and social learning;
  • Focus on problem solving and decision-making;
  • Emphasis on lasting engagement and dialogue between officials/professionals and citizens.

Support for planning of secure public spaces

Appreciative planning supports engagement with the assets of a strong multicultural area. It provides the blueprint for an inclusive approach to address culture aspects and ethics aspects in security-related urban planning. In particular, it does so by helping:

  • To collect security information from specific key stakeholders;
  • To collect information on citizens' perception of (in)security and risks;
  • To work out shared and consensual perspectives on security aspects in the urban planning process;
  • To encourage and assist judging and rating previous planning achievements and in focusing further actions necessary to be taken to increase urban resilience.

In practice, appreciative planning can provide central considerations in physical approaches to community safety, such as environmental design.[3]

Process description

Appreciative planning comprises the following typical processes:

Discovery phase

Participants identify (security) characteristics of their community and recognise resources, strengths, and positive skills that can contribute to increase security.

Components are:[4]

  • Discovering and valuing strengths/resources;
  • Learning about the broader environmental, political and institutional context;
  • Initial identification of success factors;
  • Developing skills/resources and empowering communities through participatory learning.

Social/community resource mapping

To gain a better comprehension of the environment, everything that is considered to be of security relevance in and around the community is mapped. This "discovery and resource map" on the current situation can be used as basis for mapping the desired future situation.

Mobility mapping

Movements of people, food, money and resources to and from the community are quantified and mapped. This can reveal potential to identify risk zones, vulnerability and security aspects, and to increase local security.

Venn diagram

Community organisations and institutions, their roles and linkages as well as their interactions with participants are identified.

Seasonal calendar

A Seasonal calendar is used to identify the seasonal habits of the community. This can show event-related vulnerabilities and stress.

Links and further reading

Footnotes and references

  1. Cf. Community Empowerment Collective. Retrieved from:;
  2. Ameyaw S.: Appreciative Planning: An Approach to Planning with Diverse Ethnic and Cultural Groups, in: Burayidi M. A. (ed.): Urban Planning in a Multicultural Society, Westport: Praeger, 2000, 101-114, 101.
  3. E.g. HM Government: Crowded Places: The Planning System and Counter-Terrorism. Home Office and Department for Communities and Local Government. Crown copyright, 2012. Retrieved from
  4. Wageningen UR Centre for Development Innovation. Retrieved from:;