Blog

Good consultation is good PR – despite what the consultation experts say!

An organisation specialising in consultation, which will remain nameless (you know who you are!) continually refers – despite my protestations to the contrary – to PR as ‘spin’.  In its eyes, consultation which doesn’t deliver good two way dialogue is ‘PR’. As a PR consultant specialising in consultation, this has always irritated me because PR […]

TCPA – Getting Public Participation Right

I was delighted to speak at the TCPA’s seminar on Getting Public Participation Right yesterday and to have contributed to the TCPA Practical Guides – Guide 11: People, planning and power which was launched at the event. My presentation, ‘What constitutes good public participation?’ was a largely theoretical overview of my knowledge as an Associate […]

‘Planning Reform’ – but at what cost?

Today is the deadline for responses to the Government’s consultation on its policy paper Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes, which proposes to increase the Permitted Development Rights allowing change of use, and in doing so removes public consultation from decisions affecting the regeneration of town centres. I […]

Planning Reform – for the worse

Today is the deadline for responses to the Government’s consultation on its policy paper Planning reform: supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes, which proposes to increase the Permitted Development Rights allowing change of use, and in doing so removes public consultation from decisions affecting the regeneration of town centres. I […]

Publication of The Raynsford Review on Planning in England

At the end of November, the TCPA published Planning 2020:  the final report of the Raynsford Review of Planning in England.  The report includes some excellent recommendations but will they change policy on consultation in planning? The final report is an incredibly comprehensive and significant assessment of the English planning system by former housing minister […]

Quality at a price that doesn’t match

ConsultOnline clients benefit from the strategic advice of an Associate of The Consultation Institute (skilled and experienced in all aspects of consultation, up to date with case law, guidance and new methodologies), and the tactics of the author of the definitive guide to consultation in planning (Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first […]

Reporting negative responses to a consultation

Well run campaigns in opposition to a future development, particularly petitions, can cause considerable harm to reputation.  But fortunately planning bodies acknowledge that consultation is not a vote and that decisions should not be based solely on numbers. And the historic emphasis on the statistical analysis of responses has changed with the advent of various […]

The Revised NPPF: a missed opportunity

In May, the Government (Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) held a consultation on revisions to the National Planning Policy Framework – the headline planning policy document from which all other planning policy stems. I contributed to the consultation through The Consultation Institute’s response, which commented specifically on the very opaque legislation / guidance […]

The Raynsford Review:  an opportunity for greater community involvement in planning

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is undertaking a considerable review of the English planning system, intended to make it fairer, better resourced and capable of producing quality outcomes.  A key tenent of this is improved community involvement in the planning system. The task force, which is chaired by former planning minister Nick Raynsford, […]

Professionalising Consultation in Planning

The law surrounding statutory consultation is extensive. And yet when developers consult on planning applications, there is a stark absence of official guidance, regulation and case law. Why, in a discipline led by professionals – chartered surveyors, planning consultants and lawyers – is the approach to consultation so lacking in professional rigour?  Because in most […]

Property industry awards – have your best work recognised

Several property industry awards deadlines are coming up soon: National Housing Awards – deadline 8 June Brownfield Briefing Awards – deadline 15 June Building awards – deadline 6 July The Institute of Asset Management IAM Awards – deadline 9 July The Housing Awards – deadline 20 July The Negotiator Awards – deadline 31 July   […]

Participatory planning:  a welcome replacement to the public meeting

‘A lot of heat but no light’ is an apt description of the majority of public meetings.  In the 1990s an open meeting at a local village hall or school was regarded a necessary element of most consultations.  The development team would prepare substantial amount of information and aim to talk about the proposed scheme […]

Online consultation:  a social media warning

As someone who believes strongly in online consultation, I work with social media on planning applications on a daily basis.  On the whole I think that social media offers some fantastic opportunities for promoting and extending the accessibility of a planning application. But I have to say, don’t be tempted to use social media just […]

The Book Tour Goes to Belfast

On Friday I’ll be in Belfast presenting to a law firm and the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action on the importance (and context, structure, issues and techniques) of consultation in planning. I’ll be covering some of the content of my book Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide and Rhion […]

Monitoring, analysis and evaluation – three very separate components of a consultation

Monitoring, analysis and evaluation are all very important components of consultation and should not be confused.  The important difference is that monitoring occurs throughout the consultation.  Analysis, although it can be on-going, takes place (or is complete) at the end of the process.  Likewise although tactics can be evaluated while they are in progress, the […]

Working with the Consultation Institute

I am delighted to have been asked to become an Associate of The Consultation Institute (tCI), joining and network of consultants who have considerable expertise in consultation and public engagement. The Consultation Institute fulfils the important role of promoting high-quality public and stakeholder consultation in the public, private and voluntary sectors. Never was there as […]

Changing levels of involvement in planning

The first decade of the twenty-first century was a new era in which individuals were given the opportunity to become more active, with significantly more control whether as a purchaser, a customer or a commentator. This was largely due to increasingly interactive internet-based communications but also brought about through growing customer choice (for example in […]

Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: launch event Tuesday 11 July

The CIPR is hosting an event to mark the publication of my book Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide on Tuesday 11 July. The event will take the form of a panel discussion with myself, my co-author Martin Hughes, Kate Bailey of the Landscape Institute and Colin Haylock, Past President […]

Assessing potential use of social media in consultation

Facebook or Twitter, or a combination of both? The various forms of social media available offer varying benefit and drawbacks. The following is a comparison of the roles and functionality of Facebook and Twitter from the point of view of public consultation – intended to help you determine the best form of social media for […]

Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: advance notification of publication

My book, Public Consultation and Community Involvement in Planning: a twenty-first century guide will be published by Routledge in July 2017. The twenty-first century has seen significant changes in consultation and community involvement in planning. Changes to the environment in which community engagement exists include an increased legal requirement to consult; a renewed focus on […]

Monitoring a consultation – to what extent should the development team get involved?

In some cases, the consultors’ voice is rarely heard in the discussions; in others clarifying the messages and stimulating the dialogue will be necessary to ensure an effective consultation. Determining to what extent monitoring should become involvement depends upon the following: Whether the consultation is successfully meeting the consultation objectives or whether intervention would ensure […]

Issues analysis in consultation

It pays dividends for those running a consultation to have as clear as possible an understanding of the issues that will effect it before the consultation begins. In communications theory, an issue is usually described as, ‘an unsettled subject ready for debate or discussion’.  In a development consultation, this typically includes concerns about the site, […]

Considering anonymity in consultation

During the early stages of a consultation, when a strategy is put in place to determine the direction of the project, it will be necessary to consider whether you will allow people to respond anonymously. While anonymity has been shown to enable people to put forward their viewpoint without fear of repercussion, it could be […]

Community relations during construction

It goes without saying that local residents will be more positively engaged with a development team and less critical of it if their locality is kept clean and safe, and that they are provided with timely and adequate information should their daily lives be disrupted. The following tactics are all regarded as good practice in […]

Asking the right questions

What are the ‘right’ questions to ask in a consultation on a development proposal? Unsurprisingly, there is no ‘right’ answer!  Consultation can range from an issues-based exercise which encourages a wide range of ideas from its audience, to a referendum which invites residents to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a single idea.  Ideally a consultation […]

White paper – Tackling Apathy in Consultation

To receive our white paper, Tackling Apathy in Consultation please email ConsultOnline

Selecting tactics

There are literally 100s of consultation tactics and with the advent of online consultation that list is growing by the day. So here are some ideas to help you select the most appropriate tactics for your consultation. Accessibility – do the tactics selected give all sections of the community an opportunity to comment? Analysis – […]

Media relations in consultation

There is an assumption that the media, specifically local newspapers, are naturally anti-development, that a newspaper will always champion the voice of the local resident over that of a corporate entity, and that bad news is more likely to make the headlines than good news. There is some truth in this, but this does not […]

Does a consultation need a strategy?

The simple answer, from my point of view is yes – all good consultations will have a consultation strategy.   A strategy puts in place clear aims and objectives which ensure that the consultation team shares values, expectations and understanding. It also ensures that a wide range of relevant factors are identified at the start […]

Ethics in consultation

All too often, consultation is mentioned in relation to a ‘sham’ or a ‘tick box’ exercise and references made to ‘spin’ and ‘persuasion’. I have spent some time thinking about standards of excellence in consultation and have come to the conclusion that best practice consultation is all of the following:  Symmetrical A good consultation aims […]

Principles in consultation

All too often, consultation is mentioned in relation to a ‘sham’ or a ‘tick box’ exercise and references made to ‘spin’ and ‘persuasion’. I have spent some time thinking about standards of excellence in consultation and have come to the conclusion that best practice consultation is all of the following: Symmetrical A good consultation aims […]

Community relations during construction – working effectively with residents

There are many different facets to community relations during construction which will be addressed in later blogs. This first blog on the subject concerns the vital role of resident liaison. It goes without saying that local residents will be more positively engaged with a development team and less critical of it if their locality is […]

Consultation and changing roles

Having recently completed the first draft of a book on innovation in public consultation, I have interviewed many people in the profession. It was interesting to find that in most cases, public consultations are run by planning consultants, in many cases by PR / consultation specialists but sometimes delegated to junior administrative staff with the […]

The future of online consultation

The communications theorist Grunig defined excellence in communication as that which promotes the use of research, dialogue and consultation to manage conflict, improve understanding and build constructive relationships with a wide range of publics.  This seemed a good basis on which to consider the merits of online consultation in theoretical terms.  And my analysis (see […]

White Paper – Corporate Social Responsibility for Developers

To receive our white paper, Corporate Social Responsibility for Developers please email ConsultOnline

The Principles of Best Practice in Online Consultation

My role in providing an online consultation tool and service isn’t simply to get a stamp of approval from the local community for my clients.  Of course I want to support my clients in gaining support for their proposals.  But my role is to run a good consultation, not simply to get good results. ConsultOnline […]

CommunitiesOnline launched

After running several consultations using the ConsultOnline model it is very clear that the success off ConsultOnline is due to two things: 1/ residents having access to a substantial amount of information, in a variety of formats – enabling them to feel genuinely informed and engaged 2/ the ability of the website to provide excellent […]

Public consultation: are we making the most of online opportunities?

The internet and social media are changing the way we communicate at every level, both personally and professionally.  This increased significantly in 2004 when Web 2.0 changed enabled substantially more effective two-way communication.  Facebook was also established in the UK in 2004 and Twitter followed in 2006. Just look at the figures – today 58m […]

White Paper – Why choose online consultation

To receive our white paper, Why choose online consultation? please email ConsultOnline

White paper – Online Consultation and Perceived Risk

To receive our white paper, Online Consultation and Perceived Risk please email ConsultOnline

White Paper – Consultation Tactics – Three Staple Ingredients

To receive our white paper, Consultation Tactics – Three Staple Ingredients please email ConsultOnline

White paper – Activism and Negativity – its Impact on Consultation

To receive our white paper, Activism and Negativity – its Impact on Consultation please email ConsultOnline

Case study: Scotch Corner Designer Village

The scheme Scotch Corner Designer Village is a proposed 250,000 sq. ft. designer outlet village, to be situated on the A1(M) in North Yorkshire.  Following an extensive consultation, both online and offline, the scheme gained planning consent in January 2015.   Planning history The site already has planning permission for 135,000 sq. ft. of warehousing […]

Communicating with Employees

Poor internal communication is one of the most common criticisms employees have about their companies can lead to a range of other problems including low staff morale, misunderstandings, wasted time and lack of feedback, not to mention impacts on the company’s external reputation. If your staff don’t have an up to date and accurate picture […]

Introducing ConsultOnline

PNPR is delighted to launch ConsultOnline:  21st Century Public Consultation. ConsultOnline is a unique online consultation service which enables developers to consult very effectively and cost efficiently with a specific local community as is required for a planning application. ConsultOnline uses a comprehensive website, email and social media and the process has the benefits of […]

Corporate Social Responsibility – the Wake-Up Call

Increasingly companies across all industries – not least the construction and property industry – are being given a rude awakening to the importance of understanding and implementing corporate social responsibility. On the plus side, however, CSR is not a management tool necessarily requiring new staff structures and substantial resources: many of us are already practicing […]

NIMBYs with Nous

The old fashioned NIMBY has now grown into a media-savvy, computer literate expert, able to fight anything and everything that he or she feels is going to affect their back yard. Through the introduction of localism and local authorities’ increased use of online media, the requirement for developers to consult with local people is greater […]

Online Consultation – future or fad?

Are public meetings in draughty church halls a thing of the past? The public consultation campaigns that I have run recently have undergone radical transformation.  Advances in internet communications and social media have created the means for consultation to evolve into something more responsive, more adaptable and more cost effective than unruly public meetings. But […]

Planning for Exhibition Success

The big exhibitions come around each year with what might feel like increasing regularity – and perhaps monotony. But don’t allow this year’s stand, seminar or hospitality event to become only a slight modification of last year’s. Exhibitions are the best public relations vehicle that many products and industries have available to them. They present […]

Promoting Yourself on the Internet

Download this article as a PDF The internet is possibly the most powerful communications tool available and with websites costing from as little as £500, one of the most cost effective. It is also fast growing, and as the net’s users double every 100 days, the issue that concerns even the smallest of companies is […]

The (cost) Benefits of Community Involvement

Download this article as a PDF As every developer knows, the reaction of a local community to a planning application can ultimately dictate its success. It is also true that community relations can make or break a company. Developers may view local power as a danger, a force that must be contained or crushed. But […]

New Approaches to Consultation

Online communication is transforming public consultation, presenting new opportunities to developers and making the process both more effective and more efficient. Localism necessitates increased communication with local residents and clients are presented with a multitude of new means by which to consult. Those developers who have been hibernating during the economic downturn are waking up […]

The case for social media in corporate communications

Download this article as a PDF “It’s what my teenage kids use”, or “It’s a waste of time”, is how some in the property industry have responded to the introduction of social media of social networking in a business context. Perhaps this is because this communication innovation is – ironically –badly branded. It belittles the […]

Using PR to Promote a New Product

Marketing, advertising and PR are each used in varying degrees when promoting a new product. The extent to which each is deployed is generally based on the nature of the product, its target audience and the level of awareness that already exists. But ultimately the three should work effectively together. Messages and corporate style should […]

Writing a Press Release for the Trade Press

Companies may struggle to feature on the news pages of trade journals and become increasingly frustrated when their news releases appear to be ignored. In the vast majority of cases the reason is simply that many news releases fail to contain real news, or that news value can be hard to identify. A news release […]