Consultation is about talking to the right people at the right time, providing clear information that allows people to take an informed view and, of course, listening to those views. But it is also about raising expectations and instilling confidence in people who might otherwise be sceptical about development. We know how to champion good ideas and good design.
We like to treat engagement as a continuous process where relationships are built over a period of time. There will be different activities of which consultation ‘events’ are only a part. Ideally a representative steering group or forum of some kind should be meeting regularly and participating in the evolution of the design. Particular care will be taken to engage with, and the method of engagement adapted to, all user groups and residents to ensure that, as many people as possible are involved. We have found that a mix of techniques and formats including models, sketches and visualisations as well as presentations, is particularly effective in ensuring that a wide range of people are able to participate in the decision making process.
Our suggestion for some principles of engagement:
1. Engage before design solutions are fixed;
2. Find a way to involve the hard to reach, disenfranchised and disaffected;
3. Present honest descriptions of the proposals and their impact in a transparent an understandable way; and
4. Identify the benefits that will arise and ensure they are delivered.