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 engagement through ‘Localism’ and other legislative measures; changes to the way in which we, as a society, define ourselves, and advances in technology which enable communities to organise, communicate and respond to development proposals quickly and effectively.

The book assesses the impact of these changes and provides practical advice as to how professionals – property developers and planners, local authorities, the infrastructure and energy sectors – can run effective consultations today.

It also embraces the opportunities posed by new methods of consultation.  A rise in participative initiatives provides effective, ‘two-way’ consultation and more meaningful, qualitative responses.  And as the revolution in online communication has resulted in the majority of development proposals (whether intended by the applicant or otherwise) having an online profile, it addresses the benefits of online consultation.

The first section of the book (chapters 2-5) provides a context for community engagement today.  The second (chapters 6-13), by Martin Hughes, is a discursive view of the process of consultation within the planning systems and the third section (chapters 14-18) looks at the strategy and tactics of consultation.  Finally, chapters 19 and 20 address the continuing role of community involvement both during construction and thereafter. The full content can be viewed here.

I am extremely grateful to a significant number of people who have provided insight through interviews, comment or case studies, resulting in a book which brings together some of the best practice within consultation, community relations and community involvement – from the first planning meeting through to construction and beyond.


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