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Planning for the future: The importance of reaching young people in planning consultations


Two people stand at a desk, they're planning out a planning consultation on a piece of paper

Young people are often ignored as part of the planning process. When conducting planning consultations for new developments, the significance of engaging with the younger generation shouldn’t be overlooked. They represent not only the future inhabitants of our towns and cities, but also, they are the generation who will inherit today’s decisions.


Hearing the voices of our younger counterparts in the planning stages can help to build their confidence and help them to feel a part of their community. What are the benefits of getting young people involved and how can you do so?

 

The importance of involving young people in the planning process

One of the most compelling reasons to involve young people in the planning process is for fresh perspective. Young minds are often brimming with creative and innovative ideas. Not constrained by feasibility or rigid regulations, their imagination is free to run wild. Sometimes, in planning consultations, tapping into these resources can lead to novel approaches to overcoming design challenges.


It’s also a great opportunity to help young people feel empowered that they are involved in decision-making that will directly impact them. Ultimately, it instils a sense of ownership and responsibility for the future within them. It is allowing young people to become advocates for positive change in their neighbourhoods.


Another benefit of including young people in the planning process is that it enhances a plan’s legitimacy and longevity. When diverse stakeholders, including young people, are involved, plans are more likely to reflect the needs and values of the entire community. This inclusivity fosters a sense of ownership and support for planning initiatives. Therefore, it increases their chances of successful implementation and sustainability over time.

 

How to involve young people in the planning process


Often, parents or guardians don’t realise that they can bring their children along to planning consultations. It could also be that the young person doesn’t have any interest in attending and they don’t want to fill out a form. However, there are a number of ways in which you can involve young people in the conversation.


Firstly, you need to tailor your process for them, and this will require a specified budget. If you’d like to hear the views of young people, then you need to invest in them. Set aside money for engaging youth groups, creating more interactive ways to get feedback and peak their interest.


Next, you need to think about how you will choose to engage with the younger generation. Often, a great way to get them to open up is by engaging them in a topic they care about and in a way that suits them. For example, do they like to skateboard? How do they feel about the facilities at their local skatepark?


Another great way to get and record their feedback is by doing site walkabouts. Take a walk around the building or local area with school or youth groups. This gives them a chance, among friends and classmates, to describe what makes them feel safe. They can divulge what they wish the local area had, what types of play equipment they would like to see and so on.


For slightly older teenagers, making digital content can be a great way to entice engagement. Creating engaging videos, social ads and graphics might be more appealing than attending a consultation event and filling out a questionnaire. Instead, it can all be conducted digitally or online.

 

Planning consultations of the future

Reaching out to younger people as part of consulting on your development project is not just a matter of ticking a box for diversity and inclusion. It’s imperative for creating vibrant, thoughtful, and sustainable communities. By involving young voices in the planning process, decisions will be informed by the perspectives of everyone.


Moreover, engaging young people is a powerful way to empower future generations and promote intergenerational equity. As we strive to build places that are resilient, equitable and responsive to the needs of all residents, we should recognise the invaluable contributions that young people bring to the table. Let’s actively involve them in shaping the future of our communities.


At DCA PR, we are experienced in designing and running planning consultations including finding creative ways to reach out to younger parts of communities. Get in touch to find out more. 

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