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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Navigating swift and slow planning: planners' balancing act in the design of participatory processes

Calderon, Camilo; Mutter, Amelia; Westin, Martin; Butler, Andrew


Pressing sustainability challenges and increased influence of neoliberal ideas in planning have resulted in strong demands to 'speed up', and increase efficiency in, planning processes. Meanwhile, the reported risks that such emphasis on speed have for participatory decision-making and continuous calls for increased deliberation in planning, following the ideas of communicative planning theory, suggest that planning processes ought to 'slow down'. These dual pressures for swift and slow planning have been discussed within Nordic planning studies as an 'either-or' tension by which decision-making processes are either swift yet exclusive and technical-based and/or market-driven or participatory and deliberative but time-consuming. This paper provides insights into how deliberative planners navigate the double pressure for swift and slow planning in the design of participatory planning processes. It is based on a case study in Uppsala, Sweden where demands for swift decision-making and for participation following deliberative ideals were noticeable. The case study shows planners striving in different ways to balance the contradicting demands for swift and slow planning through their process design choices. These findings provide inspiration to reimagine the deliberative turn in planning as a 'balancing act' between equally important demands for participation and deliberation, and for faster and more efficient planning.


Urgent sustainability challenges; participatory planning; swift planning; process design; deliberative planners

Published in

European Planning Studies
2024, Volume: 32, number: 2, pages: 390-409