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How to Make Planning Consultations More Inclusive

Two people sat at a table with planning documents laid out

Ensuring inclusion in planning consultations is essential for all community members have a voice. By understanding the community, proactively engaging different residents, and asking the questions—we can create a more representative project outcome. So, how can you make planning consultations more inclusive?


Understand The Community


Understanding the community you are entering into is the most important thing you can do. It will help you host the most effective consultation process that you can. This will involve examining demographics, looking into the context and seeking out the concerns of those in the area. Look at different communities, ages, ethnicities, socioeconomic status and so on.


Not only will this give more insight into how to design a project which best addresses the needs of the area, but it will also help you tailor the consultation process itself. You can understand any needs, preferences or alternatives to ensure everyone can have their say. For example, this could be providing materials and resources in other languages if they are prominently spoken in that area. It could be providing resources suited to those with disabilities or impairments and making the consultation space accessible.



Print and Non-Digital Methods


While the digital world has made consultations more accessible in the sense that most people have a smartphone and an internet connection—this isn’t true for everyone. Making sure you also utilise print and non-digital methods of publicising and response gathering ensures everyone is comfortable. In areas with an older population or a lower socioeconomic status, for example, it would be wrong to assume everybody could respond digitally.


Post flyers, send out letters, include both a phone number and email address too. Open up your consultation process to give as many ways as possible to inform and get feedback. 



Don’t Wait For People To Come To You


Hosting an inclusive consultation is all about being proactive. Depending on which area you’re consulting in, the ‘usual crowd’ might not be very diverse. So, how do we reach out beyond that to make sure other voices are included? You go to where people are already, instead of waiting for them to come to you. To do this you can set up stalls in town centres and parks, leaflet outside of train stations or supermarkets. You can also attend meetings of different local groups to let people know.


Essentially, you want to make it as easy as possible for somebody to hear about the proposals and feedback. This approach not only increases participation from those outside of the ’usual crowd’, but it also shows a genuine commitment to involving the community.


Ask The Right Questions


Formulating the right questions is essential for gathering meaningful input. To be as inclusive as possible, questions should be clear, specific and relevant to community concerns. Avoid jargon and overly technical language. Open-ended questions also invite detailed responses and deeper insights.


Additionally, it’s important to encourage young voices in consultations too. So, either make sure the questions are tailored to young people or offer different questions or ways of gathering their input.


Include demographic questions on feedback forms so you can monitor the demographics you are reaching. Afterwards, this can be compared to the census data in the area so you can see how you’ve done.



Increasing Inclusion in Planning Consultations


Making planning consultations more inclusive requires deliberate effort and a multifaceted approach. Ultimately, the more inclusive your process, the more the feedback will reflect the views of the area. This will make for a better project that is more morally sound. Plus, it helps to foster a sense of ownership and empowerment among community members.


At DCA PR, we are experienced in designing and running planning consultations that are inclusive and reach all parts of the community. Get in touch to find out more. 


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