PhD project: Planning in Dialouge – Dialogue in Planning

What is successful participatory planning processes (for sustainability’s sake)?

There is a great need for knowledge and new methods to conduct dialogues with citizens regarding different aspects of urban development. The project is designed as a collaboration between academia, it is mainly a PhD project conducted at Chalmers Architectyre, and the municipality of Lerum. Through formative assessment, the researcher has followed and observed different organizational changes in the municipality (a new political commission, a newly formed participatory body of inhabitants in the urban settlement of Gråbo and a forum for meetings where all officials dealing with Gråbo from different sectors are invited to find overlaps and knowledge gaps together), the researcher has both been able to report back about common misunderstandings and successes, as well as generic findings that has reshaped Lerum’s way of working with participation. 

Participation in planning is a new and hot topic, as participation in local contexts as well as in policy-making on a global level is required in order to meet the challenges we face in terms of sustainability and resource distribution. Thus the study of municipal efforts in the municipality of Lerum, compared to studies in an earlier case in Uddevalla has asked several questions about participation for sustainability’s sake. Studies about participation in planning have been done before, so a relevant question is: Are earlier results and findings about successful participation still valid or is new knowledge needed as new aims and reasons are being phrased? Secondly the planner’s own professional role has been studied in relation to successful participation in planning and in accordance with earlier findings the planner’s expertise has been found to be invaluable in facilitation of and interpretation of material in participatory processes.

Thus the project in Gråbo has been able to compare today’s practice with literature from earlier studies about participation, as well as to investigate connections between planning and policy in municipal current contexts through formative assessment

New knowledge 

As the project has been conducted in close collaboration with the case in Lerum, results of the research have been directly implemented in the municipality’s practice.

The academic results are presented in the publications and files to be found below. A doctoral thesis will be the final result. 

Other outputs and means of dissemination:

  • Lectures and tutoring about participation at master level, Chalmers Architecture 2011-2014
  • Interviews with politicians, inhabitants and officials in Lerum
  • Participation in a network of municipalities and researchers gathered by GR and Mistra Urban Futures about dialogue and participation
  • Conference presentation at Changing Cities Skiathos Greece, June 2013
  • Urban Lunch-time presentation at the City Museum of Gothenburg about narratives in 2013
  • Participation in conference held by Tällberg Foundation (Handslag) in 2012
  • Participation in conference held by SALAR (SKL) exchanging experiences with other municipalities 2014 

About the project in Gråbo

The Municipality of Lerum has made ​​a commitment to sustainable urban development,the vision is to become Sweden’s leading eco-municipality by the year 2025.Much of the work takes place in the town of Gråbo. To live up to the high setgoals of sustainability it is a vital part that Gråbo’s residents participatein the process. However many residents perceive that there is little or nochance to have an influence on the municipalities decision-making processes. Whenstriving for greater citizen participation and influence new opportunities canarise as well as motivating the citizens to adopt a sustainable andclimate-friendly lifestyle. Dialogue, cooperation and to build capacity amongresidents is therefore seen as key parts in the work carried out in Gråbo.


Bomble, L.,(2016). Communicative Interfaces for Planning - Social learning in participatory local networks in a Swedish context. Chalmers University of Technology, Department of Architecture, Doctoral Thesis
Type: Academic thesis
Bomble, L. (2013). Lost in interpretation: how narratives are interpreted into data in participatory planning processes in a Swedish context. In A. Gospadini (ed.), Book of Abstracts of the International Conference on 'Changing Cities': Spatial, morphological, formal and socio-economic dimensions. Skiathos Island, Greece: The Department of Planning and Regional Development, University of Thessaly.
Type: Conference paper (peer-reviewed)


  • En förstudie kring medborgardialog
  • Rapport: Hur går det? - februari 2013
  • Rapport: Hur går det? - januari 2014