Planning committees and how to navigate them

25 October 2013, Blog

If your application is being heard by a planning committee then – hopefully – this will be the final major hurdle to getting consent. However, while developers know they need to invest in planning consultants, highways engineers, flood specialists and similar; they often neglect to invest in good stakeholder engagement – setting an engagement strategy, meeting with local stakeholders, researching planning committee members and how best to show support for their scheme. To make matters even more confusing, planning committees operate differently around the country, changing how you should promote and demonstrate support for your application.

This was highlighted in a report by RTPI Wales, which pointed out many of the inconsistencies between committees in Wales. The important point for anyone trying to get planning approval is to do your homework first. For instance, find out if the committee allows public participation; how many members it includes and how they have taken similar decisions previously.

Additionally, the importance of early local engagement cannot be overstated. Being able to show that you have consulted the community on your plans and made changes as a result is a very powerful message for members. If you can also present the results of this engagement clearly both before and during the committee, you’ll stand a much better chance of a positive resolution.

There are more ways to engage with people than ever before. Used effectively, social media such as Facebook and Twitter can reach whole new groups of the public who otherwise wouldn’t take part in a public consultation. We find that people who engage this way are more likely to support new development and then take that support offline, speaking in public – including at planning committees – to show people that the community wants it to happen.

Consultation experts such as JBP manage this whole process for you. Not only do we understand the planning system and the importance of consultation, but we also plan and deliver an effective engagement strategy and demonstrate this at a planning committee – based on how it operates.

You can read RTPI Wales’ report, ‘Study into the Operation of Planning Committees in Wales’, here: http://goo.gl/7lsuXY

Richard Brown started his career in communications over 12 years ago as a journalist where he developed a passion for clear, plain English. He heads up the stakeholder team in Bristol and provides clients with strategic counsel on all engagement projects. He has run complex and controversial consultations in both the private and public sector and believes that effective consultation can improve all projects – whatever their scale – for both the developer and local communities.

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