Community Consultation for Quality of Life (CCQoL)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Built Enviroment

Abstract

Community consultation is important for ensuring that we get a built environment that is fit for purpose and could be an opportunity for serious dialogue with the community about how best to make places for everybody, rather than the perfunctory and excluding affair it often is now. There is to date little consensus on how best to gather community responses to planning proposals to feed into the design and development of successful (high social, environmental and economic value) places. Ultimately community consultation has largely untapped potential for learning how the design of buildings and places can be done better, particularly important in the Climate Emergency and for 'building back better' in the aftermath of the pandemic. Although the focus of the project is on the UK, the problems are global and the outcomes scalable.

In some parts of the country community consultation ceased during the pandemic, with decision making being delegated to pressurised Planning Officers who may not always have the interests of the community at heart. An imminent government review of planning in England is seeking to make the system more streamline. This could jeopardise community consultation which is known for being difficult and slow. A robust, inclusive, value for money format (digital and physical) for gathering data on what communities want from their buildings and places in the long term is urgently needed. To create such a platform is the aim of CCQoL.

Led by the University of Reading, with Co-Investigators in all four countries of the UK, CCQoL is a collaboration with the Quality of Life Foundation, the community consultation platform Commonplace, inclusive consultation experts Urban Symbiotics and the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CACHE). It is supported by a wide range of policy and industry organisations including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Civic Voice and the British Property Federation.

Following a review of best practice in community consultation, user experiences (face to face and digital) will be designed for piloting on real planning applications in each of the four countries of the UK. Consultations will take place in an 'urban room', a community space, disused shop or pop up in the city with parallel, but interconnected, consultations on line. Community members will be asked to contribute to the making of maps to show what they value in the area and to anticipate the potential impacts of the planning proposal. A variety of experimental formats will be used to make the consultation as engaging as possible. Locally based Community Partnership Managers will be employed to encourage inclusive participation. The platforms will be refined based on learning from the pilots.

The main output will be a digital format for community consultation. This will link to the CCQoL platform, a series of digital maps which will offer a standardised format for gathering data on what communities want on an ongoing basis, scalable for use elsewhere with potential applications for other spheres of decision making. The Quality of Life Foundation and Commonplace will be responsible for the further development of the platform beyond the life of the project. Guidance for delivering face to face consultation on the ground will also be developed, as well as a series of reports on community consultation for each of the four UK planning contexts. This pragmatic project will be underpinned by robust academic research published through a series of refereed journal papers.

A generation has grown up designing virtual environments in games such as Sim City. CCQoL will provide the next step towards a digitally generated and constructed, co-created built environment. The foundations of such a future need to be designed with great care to ensure that it fulfils its positive potential.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Quoted in House of Lords Built Environment Committee report Meeting Housing Demand
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld5802/ldselect/ldbuiltenv/132/132.pdf
 
Description Community Consultation for Quality of Life Advisory Group 1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was the first advisory group with 24 national experts on the subject of housing. We presented the aims of the project for discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Community Consultation for Quality of Life Advisory Group 2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The second advisory group attended by 24 people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Event How Can Community Consultation Engage with Under Represented Groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The event was set up by the Quality of Life Foundation, with me, as part of the dissemination of the Community Consultation for Quality of Life Project. 67 attended. 120 signed up for tickets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://eur03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.eventbrite.co.uk%2Fx%2Fhow-can...
 
Description UK Green Building Council Social Value Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact On a panel with three other speakers talking about best practice in social value. One of the other speakers was Cara Mullholland who works with me on another project the Better Places Toolkit, a KTP with Stantec. 85 attendees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.ukgbc.org/courses/social-value-showcase-2/
 
Description Westminster Forum talk on Community Consultation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Session on housing chaired by Lord Best.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk/agenda/Housing-Design-2021-agenda.pdf
 
Description |Community Consultation for Quality of Life Launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a formal launch event for the Community Consultation for Quality of Life Project. It attracted 57 industry members.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://ccqol.org/news/