Insights article

Community consultation and house builder customer success

Sebastian Weise
Published: 20/02/2024

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At PlaceChangers, we recognise the transformative power of community consultation in shaping successful housing developments and regeneration projects. It’s often said that higher levels of engagement lead to project success by greater ability to meet local needs, which in turn supports future customer satisfaction and sales success. 

Through this article, we explore how early community involvement can be a pivotal factor in the ultimate success of housebuilders, highlighting our commitment to creating spaces that thrive with and for the community.

Most high-quality UK developers, such as Redrow in new housing space or Igloo in the regeneration space increasingly consider engagement and wider aspects such as neighbourhood quality as essential part of their strategy.  

Building relationships for house builder customer success 

A successful development is taken on by people. It’s an adage that belies the effort of attracting, retaining and converting interested home buyers to sell and then service delivery. This approach involves raising awareness about the benefits of inclusive planning, identifying the community's needs, and proposing developments that resonate with and enrich the lives of those within it.

Relationships are developed over time and through several touchpoints both with buyers, potential local partners, and statutory bodies. The advantage of early-stage community engagement cannot be overstated. It demonstrates transparency, a desire for projects that “fit” the community and a willingness to conduct meaningful discussions with stakeholders.

Relationships are also developed by establishing a conversation with those who provide feedback on proposals rather than pushing information in a one-way interaction. The interactive and iterative process builds brand awareness and a positive view of the planner and developer involved, which can ultimately lead to sales and referrals to current and future projects. 

Many private developers can learn here from housing associations model of parter-based working and placemaking. 

What does the evidence say

Consultation and engagement is part of early engagement can set those all important design choices, which can have long-term benefits for buyer appeal. To illustrate the significance of early community consultation in the success of property development projects, let's distil the key evidence into a more structured format:

Most buyers come from surrounding communities

Most buyers come from surrounding communities:  For the UK, based on 2017-19 data from Experian and OSN,  Savills found that “around half of all moves, whether by homeowners or renters, are within three miles as people look to minimise the disruption to their daily working life, school and social routines.“ In areas of higher levels of deprivation, 60% of home buyers remain within three miles!

Word of mouth is the cheapest form of new business

Word of mouth is the cheapest form of new business: The cheapest acquisition channel for any new business is organic. You don’t need to market new homes through an agent and spend money on marketing. Instead, word of mouth brings interested parties to the table, some of whom will be interested in a new home.  

Resident focus shapes operational success

Resident focus shapes operational success: Projects developed with community input are more likely to gain public support. The involvement of residents in building design is arguably even more critical for housing associations and social landlords, where a good working relationship with tenants is critical to operational success. For instance, Southern Housing’s approach to resident involvement ensures that comments are taken on board at the design stage to improve future tenants' satisfaction rates dramatically. 

Transparent planning for house builder customer success

By focusing on these points above, we can see how early engagement and understanding of community and buyer preferences can significantly impact housing development projects' planning, marketing, and ultimate success. This approach enhances customer satisfaction and promotes a more efficient and targeted development strategy that aligns with local needs and expectations.

Technology can accelerate this process through an active digital engagement with external stakeholders, be they residents, other citizens, local councils or partners. A digital community engagement approach broadens the reach amongst stakeholders as they can review and respond to proposals anytime, anywhere and on any digital device. 

Embracing a community-centric approach, modern digital tools revolutionise how planners, developers, and communities connect and collaborate. These tools offer immersive experiences that foster trust, enhance brand awareness, and strengthen belief in the sustainability and quality of projects.

With a foundation in data-driven insights, such technologies support projects from initial engagement to post-completion evaluations, including ongoing resident feedback. This approach ensures a seamless integration of stakeholder input throughout the development lifecycle, paving the way for more responsive and successful urban planning initiatives.

Recognising concerns about the cost and accessibility of adopting new technologies, it's important to note that the long-term efficiencies and expanded reach these digital platforms offer often outweigh initial investments. Furthermore, their design ensures inclusivity, enabling broader community participation regardless of socioeconomic status.

Five actions for community engagement to enhance house builder customer success

Here are five strategies for house builders to enhance community engagement and buyer success during the consultation phase:

  1. Err on the side of listening: Consider that consultations are about listening first and selling second. In your consultation, leave room for feedback. Use subscription options to build a list, but keep the consultation focused on design-related choices. 
  2. Improve Customer Experience with Interactive Tools: Offer immersive and interactive experiences, such as 3D map-based views and real-time updates on project development. Co-design initiatives with the community to ensure projects meet their needs and expectations, making the development process more inclusive.
  3. Foster Open Dialogue: Transform feedback into constructive conversations by providing tailored responses to various stakeholders. This demonstrates a commitment to transparency, helps build trust, eliminates negative perceptions, and fosters loyalty among community members and potential buyers.
  4. Boost Project Visibility: Use specific, non-generic data and sentiment analysis to understand community sentiments better. This insight allows for the iterative refinement of projects, ensuring they resonate well with the target audience, thereby enhancing brand awareness in the relevant communities.
  5. Maintain Engagement Post-Completion: Extend the engagement process beyond the initial consultation phase to include post-completion feedback from residents, including those in new builds, active travel projects, or regeneration initiatives. This ongoing dialogue can help refine future projects and address current residents' concerns, thereby enhancing overall satisfaction and success.


In conclusion, embracing these strategies can significantly enhance the success of housing development projects. Housebuilders can ensure their projects meet and exceed community expectations by prioritising community consultation and leveraging modern digital tools, leading to higher buyer satisfaction and success. 

There’s often a significant time lag between pre-planning and eventual project completion. So to moderate expectations, early conversations can establish relationships with those looking a little further ahead. 

Modern design and planning tools, such as PlaceChangers, can be a strong part of the developers’ toolbox to grow brand resilience and respect while delivering the best community outcomes. 

This holistic approach, which spans from initial planning to post-completion feedback, underscores the importance of community engagement in achieving sustainable, successful development outcomes.

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