As of this week, this requirement of the new Planning Act comes into force in Wales. From now on all major developments will be required to conduct community consultation prior to the submission of a planning application and to submit a report on the consultation that details compliance with the requirements for consultation, summarises the key issues and how those issues have been addressed.
In more detail, the process will require developers to make the draft planning application available to the public for a minimum period of 4 weeks prior to the date the application is submitted – the public needs to be made aware of consultation and both statutory entities and the community need to be engaged in the process.
There are lots of things to consider, not least how to reach a large number of people locally in a meaningful way often when there is no clear centre to the community or single point for disseminating information. Not everyone can physically get to a venue with an exhibit, which means thinking about electronic means of contributing as well, and as part of that making the most of social media in a way that works for you as a developer. When talking to people it’s also tricky to get the balance right in order to ensure that a range of voices are heard – often the negative opinions shout loudest (that’s important to listen to of course, and a constructive approach to addressing their concerns will generally help your development) but there are often those who – quietly – would quite like to see the development whose voices also need to be heard.
We have been delivering community engagement consultation for a wide range of initiatives for over 15 years, including pre-application consultation services for developers who have chosen to implement them as part of their scheme development phase. One such example is our recent work for the Morris Estate for a major housing development at Pantlasau Farm to the north of Swansea, which is now a part of the pre-deposit Local Development Plan for Swansea. You can read more about that work by clicking here.