Objecting to a planning application is one of the most visible and direct methods for the public to participate in the shaping of their urban environment. Unlike many planning systems around the world, Victoria includes rights for third-parties to lodge a submission in favour or against a proposal. This democratic principle is one at the core of community participation in Melbourne and has a history of significantly affecting decisions across the metropolitan area.While all councils in the State have some process through which public submissions are considered, they vary considerably. This research aims to determine the effectiveness of these systems in creating public value. It compares processes to determine what factors affect this outcome. At its core, it concerns the activities of governments achieving a mission set by the public.This paper adopts a mixed-methods approach. Three representative case studies from local governments in Metropolitan Melbourne form the basis of data collection. Council meeting observations, interviews and document analyses are utilised. These are triangulated to compare the government’s stated mission with actual practice through a developed framework. Data suggests that public value is only created in contexts where democratic participation throughout the process is maximised.