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Introduction

During the NEW BRIDGES project – Strengthening of Quality of Life through Improved Management of Urban Rural Interaction new management models for regional planning corresponding to the need, values, and lifestyles of the people living in the Baltic Sea Region have been tested. Various methods in relation to encouraging the participation of local residents, politicians, and interest groups in regional planning have been applied and used successfully. The methods and approach presented in the toolkit are based on the work and the experiences in the 7 NEW BRIDGES partner city-regions around the Baltic Sea.

The toolkit is aimed at all practitioners working at the municipality or regional administration and planning departments, policy makers, and all the other stakeholders involved in regional development.

The Online toolkit completes the other output of the project:Planning Together for Better Quality of Life - Guide for Integrated Management of Urban Rural Interaction. The guide introduces the Integrated Management System model (IMS) as a logical step by step management model that can be applied beneficially to regional planning in the wider city-regional context. It is a useful tool for facilitating the integration of the decision making and planning processes of neighbouring municipalities. The model can help in the establishment of structures used to link different regional and municipal governing bodies in spatial planning and facilitate cooperation across sectors and borders.

Different steps of the IMS model make the involvement of different stakeholders an explicit part of the process allowing them to find and formulate together common visions and goals. Related to the each step of the cycle this toolkit will describe the methods for stakeholder involvement that have been used for coherent city-regional planning in the NEW BRIDGES project. By clicking on each sector of the IMS model in the picture you will find a short introduction and the methods and ways to go through the different steps. You will also find some good practice examples from the project partner city-regions. This Online toolkit as well as the Guide can be used in different ways; either as a guide to establish city-regional co-operation and applying the quality of life approach to regional planning from scratch or it can be used to help improve the existing practises by rendering co-operation structures more effective.

There are many ways to involve the interest groups in the planning process. With so many existing tools and techniques it can be difficult to identify them all and even more difficult to decide which to use and how to use it when implementing IMS in city-region. The involvement traditions also differ in communities with different history, culture, and traditions. Thus, the methods presented in the toolkit should be applied depending on the situation of the specific region. Good practices in the contemporary regional planning process are characterised by inclusiveness, participation, and involvement. This means that, neighbourhoods, cities, regions and counties need to involve the citizens, politicians, and business to their planning tasks. True community based planning is not imposed downward only by the elected officials or business elite of a community or by out-of-town planning consultants, but rather developed through a process of public involvement where individual, everyday citizens have an opportunity to provide their input at every stage of the planning process.