Institute demands better consultation

Planners have been urged to step up their efforts in consulting hard-to-reach groups in the community in professional guidance issued this week.

RTPI advice on community consultation calls on members to recognise which sections of the community are well catered for and identify where greater efforts are needed to engage specific groups. Planners should encourage developers to consider hard-to-reach groups when responding to plans or making applications, it notes.

Planning departments must see public engagement as a substantial investment and should set budgets for developing statements of community involvement at least three years in advance, according to the advice. But they should avoid making commitments to public engagement that will not be funded, it warns.

All front-line staff should be trained to communicate the limitations as well as the potential of the planning process and planners should limit their use of jargon, the institute recommends.

Community planning officer Louise Waring said: "The guidelines seek to bring greater clarity and professionalism to ensure that all planners understand the complex issues associated with genuine and effective community involvement."

Guidelines on Effective Community Involvement and Consultation can be viewed via

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