A guide to public consultation

Penny Norton’s book, Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide was published on 10 July 2017 and is available on the Routledge and Amazon websites.

Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning is the definitive introduction to public consultation for developers, students and planners. The past decade has seen a complete transformation in consultation and community relations in the UK, from increased requirements to consult, to the introduction of neighbourhood planning and a revolution in online communication.

The book takes readers through consultation from the basics right through to emerging trends to demonstrate how a successful consultation process can benefit both the developers and the local community. The book begins with a definition of consultation and community involvement and an explanation of their role within the development process, before going on to clarify the legal, ethical, practical and ideological concerns to be addressed by the consultation process. Consultation strategy is explored step by step, and social media and online consultation is explored in detail. This is the first comprehensive guide to modern public consultation within the UK development sector and will be essential reading for developers, students and planners.

Here’s what the experts have to say on the book:

“This book is a very comprehensive overview of the historical background, the obstacles and the democratic legitimacy challenges that come with consultation and community involvement in the changing world of planning, community relations and corporate social responsibility.  It offers a tried and tested approach to citizen engagement strategies, informed by a strong theoretical grounding and years of experience on the ground, and provides excellent insights into best practice, demonstrated through a range of projects.”

– Adrian Penfold, Head of Planning, British Land

“Perhaps the most remarkable change in planning since the 1960s has been the growing appetite for ordinary people to want to get involved in the planning process. Yet for too long developers have just played lip service to this valid interest. Having worked with Penny over the years I have greatly admired her approach and here it is described both theoretically and through wide-ranging examples. It is the antithesis of the ‘dark art’ of spin so often associated with communication in planning. Penny shows how a considered approach can keep dialogue focused and constructive while both capitalising on modern technology and managing expectations.  What comes across is a respect and empathy for consultees that makes her approach so effective in bridging the divide between developer and community.”

– Stuart Robinson, freelance Planning, Placemaking and Development consultant and previously Executive Director and Chairman of Planning at CBRE

“For those involved in promoting Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) through the Development Consent Order (DCO) process under the Planning Act 2008 this publication provides a very good account of the stakeholder engagement and public consultation necessary to meet requirements and achieve a successful outcome. Information and guidance on good practice is presented in a clear, concise and informative way which is readily accessible to busy practitioners.”

– Paul White, Technical Director and EIA Technical Authority in the Infrastructure Division at Atkins Ltd

“With the increasing demands being placed upon the planning system for local accountability to be at the forefront of planning practice and decision making, the process of involving the community in planning can frequently be treated as a science. Penny and Martin’s book reminds us that engaging with individuals and communities is still very much an art and requires imagination and creatively to both inform and engage effectively. There is a wealth of experience and best practice contained within this book that shows us what has worked and importantly to inspire and encourage us to continue to search for new and innovative ways to engage individuals in the planning and building of our future communities.”

– Will Cousins, Partner, David Lock Associates

“An excellent professional textbook.  State of the art.”

– Nick Wates, CommunityPlanning.Net

“This is a much-needed book!  Partly, the Planning profession needs it because it has not always been as eager to encourage public consultation as our law-makers have intended…  And partly because a wide variety of stakeholders and the great British public are alternatively bemused and frustrated by our over-complex, repetitious, barely comprehensible planning system.  The book has assembled an impressive array of practical case studies to illustrate how public consultation works in vastly different situations. Penny understands how politics influences practice at almost every turn, from the never-ending Hurculean labours of plan-makers through to the paper factories of consultants seeking consent orders for large infrastructure projects. This book is a major achievement and planning schools should make it compulsory reading.”

– Rhion Jones, Founder Director, The Consultation Institute

“This book is an excellent expose of the science and art of consultation and public involvement in the planning system, looking at how this influences the way development proposals are prepared, pursued and eventually determined. The art of involvement and community liaison is the bedrock of today’s planning system and when it works well, it reflects the very best in terms of inclusivity. When managed poorly or not given the respect it deserves, then it can result in poor decision making and some very dodgy development coming forward.  So I very much welcome this book in the way it assesses good and bad practice from across the country and fully expect it to become a source of guidance and support for all those who want to see an effective and successful planning regime.”

– Louise Brooke-Smith, Director, Brooke Smith Planning Consultants and RICS President 2014-2015

Read the first book review – Planning in London October 2017