When planning the master plan for a new development, it is natural to have some doubts about which aspects of the design may turn out to be controversial to external stakeholders and the public. Will the proposal fly or tank? And if it’s the latter, what are the main objections?
Generally, the more significant the proposal in respect to the context where the proposal is made, the more the proposal will attract interest and potentially also receive objections on a wide range of grounds. In this blog, we provide some suggestions for what to do to garner support for your project with a more social engaged approach around the value add to the local community.
Any proposed change has benefits and draw backs. It is important to show the benefit that are planned, and understand whether those views are shared. If they are not shared, it is good to understand the range of ideas and suggests from residents that may deliver improvments.
A study by market research agency YouGov and Shelter on the ‘silent majority’ established that an astonishing 69% of respondents were positive or neutral about house building in their area. Even across age groups, supporters tended to outnumber opponents by 5 to 3, subverting the common notion that new developments are immediately viewed negatively by the community.
Increase support from local audiences by relating to local concerns
YouGov and Shelter’s research suggests that it pays to consider what elements in your project appeal to specific stakeholders and communicate that clearly. The YouGov study asked respondents to imagine a proposal for a new housing project in their local area and choose amongst a range of scenarios that may make them more likely to support a project.
We have summarised these scenarios into four broad categories: neighbourhood improvements, the architectural design, aspects relating to project tenure, and the inclusiveness of the design process (see below).
Where to focus your engagement messages
Takeaways for your approach to community engagement
Think about the selling points of your proposal. Be sure to present those selling points in your planning consultation and gather responses on each.
Develop an engagement approach that can capture the voices of relevant audiences beyond the immediate vicinity on the ideal value add of your scheme.
Consider embedding accessible visualisations of your proposals in your community engagement that clarify key features on site. Furthermore, it helps to capture feedback also on the surrounding area beyond your site.
The simplest way to do so is by offering lightweight, easy-to-use, and interactive engagement opportunities that succceeds at capturing suggestions that can improve your proposal while staying within the business case.