The Value of Consultation
Each consultation process is unique. There are no pro formas, you need to design your own community consultation strategy for each project.
Community Consultation is an important research tool which provides valuable information. Information that assists with finding the right design solution.
Some of the benefits include:
- Understanding local views, issues and perspectives;
- A historical perspective not usually found in history books;
- An appreciation of what the community values;
- Understanding of how a place actually functions;
- Implication of exiting policy frameworks; and
- A forum in which to negotiate trade offs.
Try to imagine what your community or business precinct could be like in 30 years. It can be a daunting task for any member of the community or stakeholder to decide in a public forum. This is why we start with what they know. For instance, what is their perception of their town?
You can even narrow it down to particular places within that town. This is often a fascinating process as each person’s perceptions can slightly different. Each person brings to the consultation process their own experiences, issues, aspirations, joys and heartache.
Types of Community Consultation
There are numerous methods for consultation. A consultation strategy may adopt one or all of these methods:
- Public Forums – Information sessions to advise or update the public;
- Public Workshops – The workshop follows a design process and encourages the community and stakeholders to provide information, undertake analysis and design with the project team;
- Web Forums – An online forum presents an opportunity for people to log their ideas and communicate with other people or stakeholders. It is also useful for people who have difficulty attending public forums or workshops due to work or family commitments.
- Face to Face – Interviews with key stakeholders can provide important information on key services or factors that may affect the outcome;
- Questionnaires – This method can be by letter box drop or face to face in the street or in a shopping centre. The letter box drop method is particularly useful as it gives people time to think about their response. Its good practice to pair letter box drops with public forums and workshops. Many people can be intimidated by public forums and you may only receive one perspective. Following a letter box drop you usually find out the real picture.
If you would like some assistance with Community Consultation contact us here.