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Project Summary Project Description Application of Tools Opinion of Tools Decision making process Contact Details

Opinion of tools

Name of the case study
Ski centre Comprehensive Development Plan

Name of tool
Public Planning Forum

Opinion of tool - argumentation for choosing the tool
Public discussions at different stages of spatial plans elaboration are required by national legislation (Planning Law, 2003). The Public Planning Forum is a tool applied in this case relevant to the project aim and scope. It was considered an appropriate means to present all actors? opinions that have to be respected in the further plan development.

Choosing the tool and organising the planning forum was a joint initiative of the Municipality and the project team. The local authorities sent invitations to all target groups. The project team adapted the tool to the specific case and chose the methods, techniques, materials for presentations, defined the three thematic groups.

The criteria comprised:
• to support the elaboration of the Comprehensive Development Plan for the ski center of Chepelare;
• to create public awareness on the issues treated by the scheme;
• to put together the development ideas of various groups of the local community, the regional issues and professional expertise – aimed at achieving public consensus.

The tools considered:
• Experimental implementation of existing British experience (Planning for Real Initiative) within a joint research project on the rehabilitation on large prefab housing estates in Sofia, funded by British Council, 2000/01;
• Previous practical experience in Bulgaria – EIA of the Comprehensive Plan of Sofia;

Opinion of tool - barriers for the tool implementation
Barriers for implemenation included:
• underrepresented groups (young generation and land owners);
• difficulties in achieving consensus on certain problems (tourist accommodation, ski facilities, transport infrastructure, etc.), some contradictory proposals on the location of facilities were made;
• environmental aspects left behind on behalf of social and economic ones.

The barriers for using other tools:
• need for more detailed preliminary information on the problems faced and consequences of the plan implementation among all the groups involved;
• lack of practical experience by local population in public discussions on urban development.

Opinion of tool - assessment by tool users
The measurable environmental improvements concern the potential of different alternatives for the reduction of: (i) cutting woodland areas needed for new ski facilities; (ii) number of beds and parking lots high up in the mountain.

The importance of locally established values and estimated priorities became clearer to all the participants; the group least cooperative (forest landowners) became obvious; and the need for finding new arguments to motivate them for cooperation appeared to be a next challenge to the Municipality and the project team.

Experience in the process described confirms and broadens the lessons learned by similar activities in Bulgaria (the Development Plan of Pamporovo winter resort). The establishment of a consultancy group with representatives from all interested groups (local population, local industry, forestry commission, ski trainers and schools, hotels and restaurants, green parties etc.) and the implementation of PPF at an earliest stage of the plan elaboration is particularly useful in the attempt to defend public interests and to avoid conflicts among different stakeholders and owners.

Using the tool makes the decision-making process more democratic and helps the municipal authorities to develop a project sensitive to local needs and traditions. The discussions are helpful to all the different actors to listen to others argumentations. The tool improves the dialogue between all actors involved and promotes a solution that meets a larger opinion range. The character of the tool makes transferability in deferent cases easer.

The actors views on the tool are:
• Municipality – very successful, well-balanced representation of participants , good quality of discussion;
• private business – useful;
• local community – interesting;
• project team – helpful;
• land owners - need to expand the number of participants from their group.

The actors involved in the public discussion recognised that using the tool in the preliminary project elaboration was efficient and helpful in dimensioning the project implementation time. As the elaboration of the Ski center Comprehensive Development Plan was to affect different actors, using the tool is evaluated to be an approach able to represent all points of view and to foresee and prevent probable conflicts.

Opinion of tool - reviewer\'s assessment
The tool could efficiently support the decision-making process especially when a project has addressed all sectors and many aspects of urban development. The important part of using the Public Planning Forum as a tool is to define and involve all actors affected by the project. The classification of the suggestions formulated during the discussions was made by the project team. Classification criteria could be defined in advance according to the project aims and the possibility to avoid potential conflicts.

The tool is used by local authorities to attract different actors, to increase public awareness, to involve people in decision-making process, etc. It makes the process more democratic, transparent and guarantees the elaboration of urban development plans relevant to local needs and potential.
• the tool could be applied in different stages of project development but not too often in order to keep the interest of the local community;
• different forms to be developed (exhibitions, 3D models, etc.) – to keep the attractiveness of the tool;
• feedback to be provided for all the participants with clear report on results obtained from the discussion;
• to incorporate the aspects of continuity of the town’s development, a clearer focus needed on the long-term consequences of the addition of new elements to the existing urban environment;
• clarification of expected results – who the winners and losers are in each stage and initiative of the project;
• discussion on expected results, their cost and impact on each partner.

What tools were used to assess sustainability?

Public Planning Forum

More information

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