Local Plan Engagement

How can Authorities use digital and in-person methods for better statutory consultation?

There is a growing awareness of the need for, and value of, more effective community engagement in planning at a borough level, recognised at all levels, from proposed government planning reforms, through forward-thinking developers, to grassroots activists. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic fast-tracked Authorities into using digital methods of engagement, and made them think more creatively about how they consult on planning policy documents such as the Local Plan.

This Practice Note is based on Jessica Cargill Thompson's placement as Community Engagement Officer at Waltham Forest Council leading the consultation strategy for the draft Local Plan. It offers detailed case studies of three Local Plan consultations (Waltham Forest, Haringey and Wandsworth) that took place between 2020–21 under these conditions, including the practicalities of different digital and non-digital methods employed. From this it makes eight core recommendations for improving community engagement with Local Plan making:

  • Build in resources
  • Make it an ongoing process, not an event
  • Go to where people already are
  • Mix digital and non-digital methods
  • Keep young people engaged
  • Allow people to express themselves intuitively
  • Improve the user experience of online consultation portals
  • Employ an impartial Engagement Officer

To find out the evidence behind these recommendations and learn how to put them into practice, download the Practice Note below.

Tags: #CommunityEngagement