When the subject of Regeneration comes up, people usually only think of big projects that happen in cities, such as Stratford and the London 2012 Olympics. But regeneration isn’t just a feature of big cities; most towns in the UK are in need of some regeneration investment to improve its attraction to businesses, families, and individuals. And whilst many are fearful of change, the need for regeneration is mostly undeniable.
Policies and programmes that tackle neighbourhood deprivation have long been a feature of urban policy in the UK. They are often sold as part of a bigger picture – to attract big sporting events or as part of a political promise.
In order for the project to be successful it is imperative that the local community are engaged with right from the start of the project. They will want to know ‘what is in it for them’ and how they will benefit. They will want to know what will be built, what will be knocked down, and what the objectives are; they will want to hold you to account from the start.
Consultation needs to be planned so that it is fit for purpose, using a variety of methods that are relevant to the audience. It must be meaningful, have integrity, with honest intent, and be transparent, accessible and visible. It should not be called Consultation unless there is scope for individuals/stakeholders to influence decisions.
So, before you think about consultation, make sure you have the above covered as it could result in significant delays and indeed the viability of the regeneration project if the process of consultation is challenged and goes to judicial review.