In 2021, North Tyneside Council embarked on an ambitious active travel programme to support investment in walking and cycling corridors across the local authority. The work programme was designed to replace the temporary measures put in place during the pandemic.
Given the size of the proposals, each programme of work touched many distinct communities living in different parts of the borough.
Council officers, around project lead Nicholas Bryan, needed to understand the general support for the proposed measures and gather feedback on specific optimisations that could ensure that investments are well spent.
The consultations involved the district-wide cycle network across the borough and a particularly contested route along the seafront, known as the Seafront Sustainable Route.
The work programme for the proposed sustainable cycling route was particularly tricky along an 8km stretch of the North Tyneside promenade and coast. The council needed the ability to respond directly to comments via the platform, manage many suggestions, and generate in-depth nuanced response reports for engineers and public statements.
What was done
North Tyneside Council officers set up a series of interactive consultations using the PlaceChangers Map Engagement tool.
Council officers used the PlaceChangers proposal map designer to set up the proposals on PlaceChangers. They then turned them into an interactive consultation.
At its core, these consultations included interactive proposal maps that presented respective routes and details on the proposed measures in a context-sensitive way. Proposed measures included new crossings, speed calming measures, speed limits, and shared and segregated cycling provisions.
To support the consultation programme, the team at PlaceChangers provided a range of customisations to help the ambitions of the council, including:
North Tyneside Council has substantial success in publicising the consultation via their social media channels, email newsletters, and local news outlets.
Given the great interest for those proposals amongst local people, the consultation was widely advertised and even reached national level coverage on BBC.
"Using PlaceChangers, we received an impressive amount of engagement and constructive comments in comparison to previous transport and regeneration consultations. Through using an online tool, we were able to save so much time by not needing to manually input each individual response. Better yet, the team promptly provided us with a detailed, customisable report which thoroughly analysed the feedback, drawing valuable insights and conclusions from the data. The PlaceChangers toolkit and the support we received from the team was second to none and we hope to work with them again on future projects.”
For the coastal route proposals, 1,590 residents responded to the consultation and provided more than 10,953 responses across 61 proposals.
Within the first week of consultation, PlaceChangers achieved 100% coverage, meaning all proposals received at least three responses.
Respondents could quickly locate themselves with geo-location on mobile phones. For the cycle path proposals, they could toggle through the guided tour, walking through the details of measures going from North to South. For the Cullercoats option, the PlaceChangers platform selectively showed details for one of three routing options.
The consultation respondents were broadly supportive and complementary to the council's efforts. However, both opponents and proponents of the projects did not hold back in sharing critical feedback on how cyclists presently use routes and offered helpful suggestions on how to avoid future conflicts.
Unlike previous consultations, this approach gave the council unprecedented detailed feedback on this complex infrastructure programme. Armed with detailed intervention-level feedback, council engineers had everything they needed to revise the designs and produce a final version of the proposals.
At the end of the consultation, the PlaceChanger platform provided a ready-made interactive report that aggregated responses by sentiment and individual features across five major consultation areas. The North Tyneside Council officers could download a detailed export for further analysis of reactions.
PlaceChangers enabled a detailed cohort analysis of responses, for example, to see support across age groups or genders.
The project remains accessible online: https://app.placechangers.co.uk/campaign/203/map
The scheme has received £10m in funding from the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund and £1m from Sustrans, with support from Transport North East. Read more