The YouGov online poll of nearly 2,300 respondents last week found that a further nine per cent of those aged between 18 and 34 were “unsure” if they had engaged in such a consultation.
Across all ages, 26 per cent of respondents had engaged with a local plan consultation, ranging from 29 per cent for those of social grades ABC1, to 21 per cent for those classed C2DE. Engagement was highest in the South East and London, and lowest in Wales and the North East.
While a small majority of all respondents (51 per cent) reported that knowing that their contribution would “make a difference” as a key reason for engaging in the process in future, this figure rose to 73 per cent among those who had previously participated.
Respondents said other significant incentives which would encourage them to engage included better promotion of the information (41 per cent) and clarity and simplicity of information (37 per cent).
Ben Lowndes, a director at communications agency Social, which commissioned the reasrch, said: “If local plans are to have a more significant role in reflecting an area’s needs and aspirations, this engagement gap must be addressed.”
He added: “People care passionately about their areas and will engage positively if the consultation process is clear, accessible and easy to understand. But engagement is often limited to those with vested interests and time to spend in trawling through and responding to detailed and complex information.”
Fiona Howie, chief executive of campaign group the Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA), said: “We know there is an urgent need to rebuild trust in the planning system. Supporting everyone within communities to participate in plan-making will be an important part of working to achieve that.
“As this research highlights, people must know that their involvement will be meaningful and listened to. Community involvement must not be compromised in an attempt to simply speed up the system.”