A successful consultation event is the linchpin to any public engagement strategy regarding a planning application. A key tool in your community engagement arsenal, a consultation event gives stakeholders an opportunity to be part of the decision making processes, and provides the developer with a great way to showcase their plans and gather direct feedback.
Here are Roland Dransfield’s five top tips to make your consultation event a success.
A consultation event is an opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders. Consulting far and wide is the best attitude when it comes to choosing your audience. Ideally, you should invite a wide range of people from politicians, local businesses, third sector organisations and local residents.
Like any event the more people that attend the better. Many local authorities will have in their Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) advice on how to advertise the event to stakeholders. This could be a posted direct mail, email, leaflet or a notice in the local newspaper. A developer must demonstrate that they have advertised and invited an appropriate number and range of stakeholders to the event.
The location of the event is of paramount importance. Within most council’s SCI’s there will be advice on how to make events as accessible as possible so as many stakeholders as possible can be part of the decision-making process.
Our top tip is to choose a well-known venue to hold the event – a church hall, community centre, conference room or city centre location if appropriate. Ensure the venue has disabled access, is on public transport routes and has adequate parking facilities.
The aim is to generate feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders. While it might sound obvious, the event needs to be a time people are able to attend. School holidays, bank holidays and the months of July and August (when most people are on holiday) can all impact on the footfall of your event. For large scale planning applications, we would recommend holding several consultation events across a range of dates and times. So an early morning session (catching people on their way to work) an event around 6:30pm (when people finish work) and one on Saturday afternoon.
A consultation event is a prime opportunity for the developer to showcase their plans. Having interesting and informative communication materials which easily demonstrate the development will ensure the public feel informed. This can range from detailed presentation boards showing the plans, leaflets which give further information and FAQ sheets.
The event is a great opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders and make them part of the decision making processes. By gathering feedback, developers can ensure they are working with the community to ensure their new development has a sense of place.
Do you have an upcoming development ready to market or are in the planning process? Get in touch to find out more about how we can advise you on the consultation process.