Public Consultation – Lessons Learnt

Good quality and meaningful public consultation is a vital role in the planning process.  In addition, with the emergence of the Localism Bill, the role local communities have in shaping development is going to increase.  It is therefore important to help ensure that opportunities to engage with the public on proposals are taken advantage of in a way and at a scale to suit development proposals.

I have been involved in a significant number of different public consultation events during my time at Harris Lamb and in my previous role as a Planning Officer with Redditch Borough Council.  During my time at Redditch, we were in the process of preparing a new Local Plan.  As part of this process members of the public and the development industry were heavily involved in shaping the Plan’s policies.  During the various consultation periods public exhibitions were held, stakeholder groups were formed, and promotional stalls set up in the Town Centre.  In order to advertise these events, articles were placed in local newspapers, information was put on the Council’s website and posters placed around the town to encourage community involvement.  This approach helped ensure a plan was created that reflected the needs of the community and the development industry.

At Harris Lamb I have been involved in a number of public consultation events.  These have ranged from presentations to drop-in sessions, to steering groups.  We tailor our consultation events to the project, be it a development for close to 1,000 new homes in South Worcestershire or new supermarkets, to smaller schemes such as care home developments.  These consultation events have always been well attended by members of the public.  A number of the consultation events had in excess of 100 people attend any one session with a significant proportion providing comments.

The most recent public consultation event undertaken by Harris Lamb was in relation to a supermarket proposal in the town of Worksop.  This took the form of a drop-in session where members of the public could view a series of display boards outlining the proposal.  They also had the opportunity to ask questions of the planning application team who attended the event.  Approximately 100 people attended the event, the majority of whom provided positive and constructive comments which have been taken into account in the preparation of the Planning Application.

Public Consultation can play a very important role in helping to shape planning applications and developments generally.  Engaging with members of the public can inform the design process to help ensure that the needs of the local community are taken into account.  They also provide valuable information, such as local knowledge on the history of sites and issues that matter to the local community.  The role public consultation can play in helping to positively shape developments should not be underestimated.

If you need any advice or assitiance regarding any aspect of commercial planning permission, Simon would be pleased to speak with you. Call him on 0121 4559455 or email         

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