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 the public. Will the proposal fly or tank? And if it’s the latter, what are the main objections?
Generally speaking, larger development projects are likely to attract greater interest and can also receive objections on a wider range of grounds. In this article, we discuss how an engagement process can pick up on local concerns, communicate and enhance value-add from a development project, and ultimately garner support.
Let's face it, any proposed planning project has both benefits and potential draw backs. It is important to show the benefit that are planned, and understand whether those views are shared. If they are not shared, negative feedback is valuable, too, as it helps to understand concerns and identify opportunities for improvement that raise support.
Increase support from local audiences by relating to local concerns
Residents are not naturally opposed to new development. 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.
YouGov and Shelter’s research suggests that it pays to consider what elements in your development proposal appeal to specific stakeholders and communicate that clearly.
The YouGov study asked respondents to imagine a proposal for a new housing project in their 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: 1) neighbourhood improvements, 2) the architectural design, 3) aspects relating to proposed tenures, 4) and the inclusiveness of the design process (see below).
Where to focus your engagement messages
Based on the insights from the study by Shelter and YouGov, think about the positive local impacts the development project will have along those four areas:
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. In order to do so, research the site context and speak to local people.
Embrace feedback as a valuable source of insight. 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.
Add interactive online engagement to your next master planning project and work faster.