Consulting with the public


Recognition has handled scores of consultations and most go very smoothly. The picture shows a consultation exhibition in Durham, which engaged with the public and resulted in minor changes to plans which enhanced the application.

I have some horror stories too. These are mostly from smaller developers attempting their first big schemes. They rush and involve the public late in the day in such a way that presents them with a binary choice - object or accept.

One developer wanted to build a large scale residential development on his farm. He wanted to apply for planning permission before the council’s summer recess and only realised at a date very near to the meeting that he hadn’t ticked the consultation box. He hurriedly arranged a public meeting at the farm, resulting in hundreds of people driving through the beautiful farmland he wanted to develop only to be given a talk by an architect who had never talked to a large crowd before. The result was a disaster. The people, who had never previously met, exchanged phone numbers and organised a protest group and the plans were subjected to a massive press campaign and refused!

Council meetings before recesses - Summer and Christmas - usually spark this sort of misguided consultation. It is unprofessional and counter-productive.

Recognition has a formula which ensures the public can have their say, the developer can make a case and any debate can be conducted in a rational way which avoids hot heads! Take our advice early and let the PR people be part of your team alongside architects and planning consultants.

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