Sustainability, Vol. 11, Pages 6525: What Difference Does Public Participation Make? An Alternative Futures Assessment Based on the Development Preferences for Cultural Landscape Corridor Planning in the Silk Roads Area, China (Sustainability)
Landscape corridor planning (LCP) has become a widespread practice for promoting sustainable regional development. This highly complex planning process covers many policy and planning issues concerning the local landscape, and ideally involves the people who live in the area to be developed. In China, regional planners and administrators encourage the development of landscape corridor planning. However, the current LCP process rarely considers ideas from local residents, and public participation is not recognized as beneficial to planning outcomes. We use a specific Chinese case of LCP to analyze how citizen involvement may enrich sustainable spatial planning in respect to ideas considered and solutions developed. To this end, we compare a recently approved landscape corridor plan that was created without public participation with alternative solutions for the same landscape corridor, developed with the involvement of local residents. These alternatives were then evaluated by professional planners who had been involved in the initial planning process. We demonstrate concrete differences between planning solutions developed with and without public participation. Further, we show that collaborative processes can minimize spatial conflicts. Finally, we demonstrate that public participation does indeed contribute to innovations that could enrich the corridor plan that had been produced exclusively by the decision-makers. The paper closes with a discussion of difficulties that might accompany the involvement of local residents during sustainable LCP in China.