Five things to note if consulting during the summer holidays
It is widely accepted that it is best to avoid consulting during the holiday season if it can be helped. However, sometimes it is unavoidable owing to wider project constraints. Our Director in Bristol, James Mallinson, looks at some key things to consider if you need to consult during the holiday season:
If undertaking a consultation during the summer a big challenge can be managing the availability of consultants and ensuring information and material are ready in time. Preparing well in advance not only ensures the information is readily available, but means you can give the community plenty of notice.
Space out your events
As a rule of thumb, a family holiday is unlikely to span longer than a fortnight. Therefore, the most common grievance is that events are held within a single week, which can disenfranchise those away on their holidays. Scheduling your exhibition sessions more than 14 days apart goes some way to resolving this.
More than just exhibitions
Residents and stakeholders no longer rely solely on public exhibitions to get information. Embracing the internet and social media; leaving printed material in local venues such as libraries; and, securing regular press articles can all widen your catchment and enable people to get involved, even if they’re away.
Know your audience, and your Council
Local authorities have an adopted Statement of Community Involvement as part of their Local Development Framework, setting out the expectations of developers in terms of consultation. No one knows the local community as well as the local ward members. However, all too often consultations are in motion before local members have been briefed, which is a common oversight as they can provide a valuable insight into who you should be engaging with and what the likely issues will be – take their advice!
Its child’s play
Many parents will need to bring their children along to your consultation events during the holidays. A few small preparations can make a public exhibition child-friendly and reduce parents’ stress levels. Think about creating a children’s corner with low-level tables, crayons and colouring books.