Giving voice and influence before and during the planning stage

In every development, there will always be a community with whom to consult, and that has a stake in the new development - either as potential residents, or as a neighbouring area or as the wider local community. For example, a large development will have a profound impact on nearby towns or villages, or the surrounding rural area, by displacing population, bringing in new residents, and possibly increasing the strain on transport and services.

Experience from regeneration partnerships shows that:

"Top-down funding empowers institutional stakeholdersGlossary: A group of people or an organisation with a legitimate interest in a given situation, action or enterprise represented in partnership by paid professionals, skilled at meetings, who can forge ahead with regeneration strategy. More challenging is genuine partnership with the community, which implies enhancing the ability of communities to participate in strategy development and long-term community governance."

Examples of good community regeneration:

Upper Calder Valley

Regeneration funding from Yorkshire Forward, Yorkshire's Regional Development AgencyGlossary: Regional Development Agencies' role is to act strategically to support the economy in nine areas of England. 
, offered five market towns of the Upper Calder valley the chance to create a new future for themselves.

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Northstowe, South Cambridgeshire

For the proposed new town of Northstowe, South Cambridgeshire District Council has commissioned early feasibility work on the potential for a community trust as part of the overall development.

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Crown Street Regeneration Project, Glasgow

The regeneration of the Crown Street area of Glasgow has created a highly liveable neighbourhood with well-placed community facilities and attractive public spaces. The area was re-developed after the demolition of tower blocks in the late 1980s.

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Canning Town

£24 million road infrastructure plans which were going to cause considerable disruption to the community before their benefits would be felt. Community support was needed but the plans were strongly opposed by a local action group. Eventually the group became part of and ended up leading the planning group through which the details were debated and compromises agreed. Once on the inside, the local action group were able to see and understand the constraints and opportunities impacting on the overall project, and everyone became more pragmatic: better solutions were found and the outcome was much better as a result.

However, those in charge of funding can have a huge beneficial contribution to support the ability of communities to participate by:

  • including a requirement in all development briefs and processes to include existing and new residents throughout the process, and monitoring the delivery
  • including consideration of issues regarding allocations and lettings as part of the community engagementGlossary: the process of involving people in decisions that affect them. strategy

Proposed new developments tend to be controversial and often stir up local fears. Bringing people into a consultation process is less difficult than managing the tensions and prejudices that may emerge. This can however avoid later objections and costly delays. Additionally:

  • local intelligence is a resource that professionals need to tap into
  • a distinctive identity cannot be manufactured and imposed from outside - the vision and feel of a new place has to be developed through a co-production process that involves local communities.

Community PlanningGlossary: is a process by which residents are involved in planning and managing services or physical developments.net has outlined best practices for residents to get involved with professionals to help to shape their own communities. These can be found on www.communityplanning.net.

The importance of consulting well and doing it early in the process

Community input needs to begin early on to develop trust:

  • recent decades have seen the development of a number of innovative approaches to engaging citizens and service users in the place-making process, including public ‘charettes', ‘planning for real' and collaborative design workshops
  • advances in digital technology are also opening up opportunities
  • however, engagement can lead to public cynicism if it is not well run, or if viewed by the public as tokenistic

Read more about early engagement of existing and future residents