The overall goal of a comprehensive plan is to address the values and desires of a community and reflect its desired future.
To ensure a comprehensive plan directly addresses what the community wants, it is extremely important to engage the community. It's easy to ask the community for input, but ensuring participation can be a bit complicated. It's common to host town meetings, hearings and workshops but that only reaches a very small section of the community. Many communities and councils are using digital engagement strategies in order to reach more people and get the most feedback possible to ensure that the plan will represent the community's desires.
Each planning project must consult the public according to its issues, size and resources. Actively involving residents and/or stakeholders in all phases of the planning and decision making process. It's essential to gather diverse opinions and feedback as their input is vital to create a sustainable comprehensive plan that is community focused and representative of the community vision.
Citizen/public participation is the process of giving community members and stakeholders the chance to influence public planning decisions. Public involvement is essential to gather enough information to accurately represent the public. Asking for participation involves educating the community about the issues being addressed to know how planning will affect them. Most people will be initially skeptical, so it's important to guide them through the process to focus and ensure that they feel they can trust you.
Things to consider:
Citizens must be given both the encouragement and opportunity to participate and if one is missing, the effort from community and stakeholders to participate won't be as successful as it could have been.
Many citizens don't have the skills to effectively participate on their own. It's often necessary to host educational sessions before your consultation efforts to ensure that citizens know how to participate and what sort of feedback is needed for the comprehensive plan.