Engaging existing residents
People living in areas where growth is planned are likely to have very different concerns and aspirations from those moving into the new places. Previous experience suggests that concerns about being left behind when investment is being allocated are uppermost in their minds, as well as concerns that the already stretched infrastructure may not be able to cope with large numbers of new homes and residents.
Existing residents will have views about what sort of place they would like their neighbourhood to become and can help to develop a master plan for the area and to identify what facilities such as, services, shops will be needed to support the development of the community.
Listening and responding to these concerns is essential if the key issues for the community are to be identified and genuine participation encouraged. It is also the first step to establishing good relations between the two communities. Existing residents must be invited to be involved in consultation activities and should be provided with other opportunities for engagement and influencing - both separately and alongside new residents. In the development of new housing in Bristol, exisiting residents were involved in designing a new streetscape for their neighbourhood which extended into the new development's road layout.
Some research was undertaken to find out the views of existing residents of the Thames Gateway. While some of these points may be applicable to other areas, they should not be transferred wholesale, nor should this be seen as an alternative to consultation relating to specific areas, since the issues are likely to be different.