Co-creation aims to solve physical or social issues that affect people’s lives (e.g. unsafe roads, lack of greenspace) by actively involving the public in the identification of the problem, designing and evaluating solutions, and then implementing them. It refers to forms of public participation where there is a high-level of citizen involvement rather than just informing or consulting them after solutions have been designed by experts. It can be implemented as part of a research-led ‘Living Lab’, or to support planning processes led by local authorities, civil organisations or private entities.

  • Optimized design and planning: Improves the outcomes of design and planning processes by involving end-users.

  • Community empowerment: Empowers communities and builds community capacity to facilitate bottom-up innovation.

  • Stakeholder Consensus Building: Builds consensus around solving concrete problems by considering the needs and ideas of all stakeholders

  • Citizen-Inclusive Planning: Supports the democratisation of planning by involving citizens in developing solutions rather than just informing them.

  • Shared Ownership Approach: Develops shared ownership of problems and solutions.

  • Extended Planning Timeframe: Involves a longer timeframe compared to traditional planning approaches.

  • Decision Deadlock Risk: Faces the risk of decision deadlock when conflicting ideas without consensus arise.

  • Resource-Intensive Process: Demands significant investment in resources, particularly when led by an experienced facilitator as recommended.


The Learning Loops in the Public Realm (LOOPER) project developed a co-creation toolkit (accessible at and provides practical advice on how to implement the different stages of the co-creation process with examples from Manchester, Brussels and Verona. They also produced a brief overview document.


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