12/02/2018 Victoria Oliveira

What we learnt from our first breakfast briefing – “Better Engagement in Planning”

On 9th February, we hosted our first breakfast seminar in collaboration with Carson Mc Dowell LLP , the Consultation Institute and Stratagem NI at Ten Square, Belfast. We listened to three insightful presentations on the changing world of consultation in planning and their predictions for 2018 and beyond.

The speakers were:

Our own co-founder, Quintin Oliver, facilitated the proceedings (@TCIEngagement).

Whilst there were definitely some resounding takeaways, including the rising importance of genuine engagement in planning and that the failure to consult properly can give rise to grounds for judicial review, each of the talks offered unique and valuable food for thought. So, let’s look at each of them.

Rhion Jones’s Insights 

Rhion stimulated the conversation and touched on why public engagement has become such a challenge for Planners & Developers. He touched on the rising expectations for Public Involvement and suggested that due to the rise of Social Media it has never been easier to campaign, especially the power to oppose.

He discussed the four factors affecting NIMBYism, including the impact of proposals, reputation of the technology, perception of the Developer and fairness of the consultation process.

Penny Norton’s top tips

As our key note speaker, Penny highlighted the key challenges and components of achieving successful and effective consultation and community engagement involvement in the planning process, through the findings of over 100 case studies.

She provided some practical advice as to how professionals – property developers and planners, local authorities, the infrastructure and energy sectors – can run effective consultations today. These include; assigning an accessible figurehead to the Project, obtaining local knowledge, managing expectations and investing in analysis and feedback (to name a few).

Penny noted that 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.

Grant Mc Burney’s predications

With a background in Planning and Environment Law, Grant’s talk naturally discussed the Legislative Framework surrounding Pre-Application Consultation (PACC) in Northern Ireland. He focused his talk on the minimum requirements of PACC and future issues, such as a change in the application boundary or increase in development area and movement of the development.  He looked at relevant legal judgements coming from the courts, focusing on the implications of the recent judgment in Holborn Studios Ltd v London Borough of Hackney.

He noted that Public consultation may be viewed by some applicants for planning permission as a mere procedural necessity which must be undertaken to enable an application to progress however, the reality is that failure to consult and the failure to consult properly can give rise to grounds for judicial review.

The seminar also included a Q&A session involving our own Co-Founder, Quintin Oliver. Other topics discussed included the merits of going above and beyond the minimum legislative PACC requirements and the desire for a set of consultation principles/standards.

Our Breakfast Briefing series is a quarterly business forum that features prominent thought leaders who share their expertise. If you would like to be kept informed of future events, please email victoria@tciengagagement.com. Alternatively, to find out more about TCI Engagement’s pre-application community consultation services click here.

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