Story of Participatory Planning in Saue

Keiti Kljavin & Kadri Koppel

So I am going to tell you about the first practical example of collaborative planning in Estonia I would say. Because before that we have written many kind of guidelines how to bring people together, how to involve the public. But that was the first time when we actually worked together with the municipality.

Saue is a small city that wants to develop its central area where they do not have really anything particular happening at the moment. And their first idea because they just did not know anybody around that time was: Let’s ask people whether they want to have green or red houses? But they were smart enough to look for help. And then we helped them to a design the process that would bring together the different groups of the community and to make this discussion happening inside the community, what this place could become to.
So we designed the process. We did some research. We started having different discussion groups, with the landowners, there was a plenty of different people who owned the land and with the youth, with the politicians. We just activated the people of the city. And we put together a vision of what this area could become into.
And more importantly we put together like guidelines of what developers and the planners need to take into consideration when they start planning and developing it. And it has been signed or accepted in the city government. So it is a legal document now. And it is very much just the beginning of big process of developing something new. But this kind of process where you invest your time and ideas and start the discussion and conversation around in the community itself of what the city become like, this never really has been done in Estonia.
If there is any kind of participatory planning then it is just one event or one seminar of two hours where you can say what you do not like about the project. But now we kind of made it happen so we wanted to make the discussion happen before anyone actually starts to plan something or develop something. So it could become the better center and better city which actually has different functions and which actually will be used by the community and what the community can be really proud of. And this I am pretty sure is attractive to both the investors as well as future citizens of that city
And the most important is that we learned so much out of that. It is that we cannot say that we do only this guidance or share only the kind of knowledge of course but we really did something. Oh, and the main thing that we learned from this process because it was participatory process to vision something before it actually start with detail planning and developing with investors. What we learned is that even though we were putting together a participatory planning then specialists who come from outside the community can never be the ones who bring the ideas and say that now we have to make it happen and these are good ideas, these are the good trends, let’s follow these and let’s be ahead of time. The community has to understand these ideas, they have to come up with these ideas and they have to be behind this concept. They have to want to develop their own town. This is what we learned I think.

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