The English planning system has recently been subject to major reforms, partly to enhance participation. The roots of this lay in established concerns about participation – eg. representation and equity – and the new system attempted to address these with challenging new requirements and national guidance. This paper will argue that general planning practice has yet to cope successfully with the challenges, but it will also elaborate how and why that is now changing. It will show how recent practice is beginning to create a context in which participation practice is addressing many (but by no means all) of the traditional concerns. The paper will also show how the wide-ranging work of some practitioners is beginning to create a robust context and infrastructure which is moving participation in planning and development from being an exception to a situation in which it the norm and mainstream.