Planning Cell/Citizens' Report


Dienel, H.-L.; Vergne, A.; Franzl, K.; Fuhrmann, R.D.; Lietzmann, H.J. (Hrsg.) (2014): Die Qualität von Bürgerbeteiligungsver-fahren. Evaluation und Sicherung von Standards am Beispiel von Planungszellen und Bürgergutachten. München: oekom.

Dienel, P. C. (2009): Demokratisch, Praktisch, Gut. Merkmale, Wirkungen und Perspektiven von Planungszellen und Bürgergutachten. Bonn: Dietz Verlag.

Dienel, P.C. (2002). Die Planungszelle. Der Bürger als Chance. Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher Verlag.


Bürgergutachten zur Gebietsreform in Thüringen, for the Thüringer Ministerium für Inneres und Kommunales, 2016

Bürgergutachten zur Ortsentwicklung, for the Gemeinde Planegg, 2015  

Bürgergutachten zur intelligenten Energie- und Verkehrswende im Stadtquartier, for the Forschungscampus Mobility2Grid, funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, 2014

Bürgergutachten zur Entwicklung eines Bildungsquartiers am Tempelhofer Damm, for the Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung und Umwelt Berlin, 2013 

Bürgergutachten Entwicklung Konzept für Bürgerbeteiligung, for the City of Wolfsburg, 2013 

Bürgergutachten Nutzung Ochsenteichgelände Wernigerode, for the Bürgerbündnis Wernigerode, 2013

Bürgergutachten Usedom als deutsch-polnische Insel und Gestaltung des öffentlichen Raums in Artern, for the Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung, 2009 

Bürgergutachten zu Eckpunkten der Kommunal- und Verwaltungsreform, for the Ministerium des Innern und für Sport Rheinland-Pfalz, 2008

Bürgergutachten Zukunft Europas, for the King Baudouin Stiftung/EU-Kommission, 2006 

Bürgergutachten zur Entwicklung der Stadtquartiere Sparrplatz und Magdeburger Platz, for the Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung Berlin, 2000


The Planning Cell/Citizens’ Report method was developed by Peter C. Dienel (2002) in the 1970s and has since become a recognized standard in participatory processes. The procedure allows citizens the chance to realize their responsibility as active members of society and to engage with both conflict-resolution and planning processes.

In this method, the topic or question up for debate is discussed by at least two (and sometimes more) groups of citizens in so-called planning cells, which are held parallel to one another. The procedure has a duration of two to four days so that participants can have adequate time to gather information and form an opinion. A neutral process facilitator works together with the relevant actors to develop an agenda, which guides participants through the various sub-topics related to the question. These sub-topics are then discussed in one-and-a-half hour long sessions. During these sessions, the participants are given information about the topic and presented with the various pro and contra arguments. Participants are then free to discuss these topics (without a moderator) in varying small groups. The groups then present their findings to the larger group. At the end of each session, the suggestions of all small groups are weighted by all participants. This procedure emphasizes an unbiased work flow, free of predetermined solutions. The randomly selected participants thus advise and decide in the name of all citizens.

There are many advantages to this participatory method. The random selection of participants and short-term duration of participation allows all citizens the same opportunities to participate. Compensation for participation, as well as a certificate of exemption from normal employment, encourages inclusion by making it easier for all citizens to participate. By reaching out to a large cross-section of citizens, the process minimizes the influence of lobby groups while maximizing the focus on the interests of all citizens and their acceptance of the solutions. Well-balanced, easy-to-understand information forms the basis of discussion; and the changing composition of the small groups prevents the dominance of only a few opinions. The citizens’ report documents the process and all results of the planning cells. After the participants have acknowledged and authorized their results, the citizens’ report is handed over to the administration, politicians, and citizens for further discussion and decision making. 


Solutions for the common good generated by randomly selected citizens.

Planning Cells/Citizens’ Reports allow randomly selected citizens to take part in planning and decision-making processes. A Planning Cell consists of 25 participants who, over the course of two to four days, develop suggestions for the challenge at hand. The participants are given information about a problem that they then discuss in small groups in order to come up with solutions. At the end of the process, outcomes and solutions are presented and documented in a Citizen’s Report, which is delivered to officials. The random selection of citizens allows for equal opportunities of participation, a heterogeneous and representative composition of participants, and increases the potential of results being accepted. The wide range of information and intensive discussions support the development of both different opinions and objective, common-good solutions.

Planning Cell/Citizens’ Report at a Glance:

  • Participants are randomly selected, released from work, and compensated
  • Sufficient time for the transfer of information
  • Intensive discussion in changing small groups
  • Objective solutions for the common good
  • Documentation of the process and its results in the form of a Citizen’s Report


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