Community engagement in development planning: an ongoing challenge

Category Picture Community Developmentby Morwen Johnson

“People should be at the heart of the planning system because planning is a system to improve the quality of everyday lives” (ODPM, 2005)

The importance of engaging the wider community when making decisions about the development of land or infrastructure has long been recognised. Within the devolved nations and England, planning legislation includes a requirement for engagement, both at the level of strategic planning and local/neighbourhood planning. How to make any engagement ‘meaningful’ rather than a tick-box exercise continues to be a challenge, however.

Our latest briefing looks at some of the lessons on good practice in community engagement. This includes engaging ‘hard to reach’ groups and some tools that are often used within the planning system.

Some of the consistent messages that emerge from the literature are:

  • Community engagement must happen at an early stage in the process, so people can genuinely influence decisions and the shape of later discussions.
  • While community engagement activity is important, it should also be proportionate to the scale of proposals and the potential impact on the area.
  • The ‘community’ is not homogeneous – it comprises both geographical communities and multiple communities of interest.

 To find out more, read our full briefing which can be requested from this page.

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