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This paper presents the development stages of an interdisciplinary socio-technical methodology for quantifying the value of demand side participation (DSP) in deferring network reinforcement. The methodology forecasts how many years load growth a section of network can accommodate before components exceed their standard rating. The approach identifies components within the network which are thermally vulnerable and uses power flow sensitivity factors to assess the value of applying real power reductions, using demand side participation, at different substations to relive thermally constrained components. The third stage of the methodology requires the load points to be socially characterized. This is achieved by using socio-demographic data to map out the number and type of customers connected to each load point. This information is used to gauge the potential social acceptance of demand side participation schemes for different types of consumer. The final stage combines the power flow sensitivity factors, calculated in stage 2, with the social findings, calculated in stage 3, to calculate the optimum socio-technical solution. The methodology is illustrated by a case study based on an existing rural distribution network in northern England.