|M.Sc Student||Ronen Batsheva|
|Subject||Ways of Informing the Public about Local Plans before|
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Emeritus Arza Churchman|
Informing the public about local plans is a necessary, though not sufficient, act of public participation. The examination of modes of informing may lead to conclusions about better ways of conveying planning information. Our empirical research was carried out in two stages. In the first stage twenty local planning institutions were chosen. We interviewed one representative of each. The results of this examination led to choosing three planning institutions that were found to inform the public more than the others. These were examined in depth by interviewing six to eight persons, who play various roles in informing the public. The results enabled us to identify the ways used that exceed legal requirements. We examined the reasons for and against going beyond the legal requirements, institutional expectations of public reaction, and factors affecting the different ways of conveying information to the public. At this stage we also examined the opinions of persons conducting the act of informing on the wider aspects of public participation. We analysed these ways via five dimensions. The definition of dimensions reflects the mutual relationships between the variables on the whole. The variables we chose were: purpose of informing, timing of providing the information, means of transferring the information to the public, definition of the public to be informed and content of information that is conveyed to the public. The ways we found show differentiation in all of these dimensions. Some of them enable involving the public in the consideration of planning issues, and others reflect transparency and recognition of the right of access to information. Some of them have been adopted as regular procedures. Others depend on ad hoc decisions that planning institutions make. We relate in the discussion to the consequences of each of the dimensions on public participation. A model for assessing the ways of informing is presented. It enables reflecting the five dimensions on a two dimensional visual plane. We also discuss turning information into knowledge, and the differences between law, regulations, procedures and norms of behaviour. These are considered according to the effect they have on transparency and public trust in the authorities. Recommendations relate to the development of long term procedures for informing the public about planning, while leaving flexibility in the hands of the institutions.