Public and Stakeholder Engagement and the Built Environment: a Review


Purpose of Review

We review 50 articles from 2015 and 2016 that focus upon public and stakeholder engagement as it pertains to the built environment. Our purpose is to understand the current state of the literature and approaches being used to better enable public and stakeholder engagement. As part of this review, we consider whether recent digital and mobile technologies have enabled advances for stakeholder and public participation.

Recent Findings

The literature suggests some positive and some challenging developments. Researchers clearly suggest that most policy-makers and planners understand, and to some extent, aspire toward enabling more inclusive participatory planning processes. That said, there is far less consensus as to how to make meaningful inclusive participatory processes possible even with digital, as well as more traditional, tools. This lack of consensus is true across all academic disciplines reviewed.


We discuss these issues as well as current solutions offered by many scholars. We find that no single solution can be applied to different situations, as contextual factors create different problems in different situations, and that the participation process itself can create biases that can—intentionally or unintentionally—benefit some participants over others. We conclude with a series of questions for practitioners and researchers to consider when evaluating inclusive engagement.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin M. Leyden.

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Conflict of Interest

Kevin M. Leyden, Amanda Slevin, Thomas Grey, Mike Hynes, Fanney Frisbaek and Richard Silke declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

Additional information

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Built Environment and Health



Table 1 Summary of 50 articles focused upon public and stakeholder engagement (2015–2016)

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Leyden, K.M., Slevin, A., Grey, T. et al. Public and Stakeholder Engagement and the Built Environment: a Review. Curr Envir Health Rpt 4, 267–277 (2017).

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  • Built environment
  • Stakeholder
  • Engagement
  • Public participation
  • Planning
  • Urban