Identify who to involve

To plan how you involve people with an interest in the area who are not part of the immediate client team, you need to identify and agree who they all are.

You need to strike a balance between inviting involvement from organised groups of people and seeking to secure representation from the more ‘unorganised public’, a diverse cross-section of people who are not part of local groups but are affected by the proposed changes. Hearing what they have to say will require you to find creative ways of meeting with and listening to them. This will include future generations and people who do not yet live in the place. 

You should bear in mind that some groups may only form because of the process that is being proposed. Others may already exist but need to form new alliances or shift their focus to reconcile diverse needs.

Planning shapes the places where people live and work. So it is right that people should be enabled and empowered to take an active part in the process.
Community involvement in planning, ODPM (2004)

It may be helpful to ask:

  • What formal structures are already in place at the local level (including local strategic partnerships, parish councils and community forums)?
  • How representative are these formal groups? Do they constitute the community?
  • Will these groups give a voice to minority or marginal views? If not, what can be done to achieve more balanced participation?
  • What new structures may be set up as a result of any prospective project?
  • Should these structures formally be part of the client body?
  • What kind of power will organised and unorganised groups have to participate, make decisions or lead the process?

Who needs to be involved will vary greatly according to the context but, as a guide, the kind of formal groups of people you should consider may include:

Public interests – political and statutory bodies

  • planning and highway authorities
  • building control departments
  • police, fire and emergency services
  • statutory consultees (for example, English Heritage, Environment Agency)
  • public funders
  • local service providers (for example, local education authority, primary care trust)
  • housing associations

Private interests

  • landowners
  • funders (short-term)
  • investors (long-term)
  • developers
  • management agents
  • occupiers
  • utilities companies
  • transport providers

Community interests

  • local resident bodies
  • current and future local residents
  • local businesses and chambers of commerce
  • local employers and employees
  • amenity groups
  • local politicians
  • visitors to the area
  • children (who will probably be adults by the time development is complete)