Latest News

2022 – Social’s year in public consultation

14th December 2022 By Brandon Henderson
Back to latest news

Engagement with local communities and stakeholders has never been more important than it is today. We are always exploring ways to evolve our approach in line with the latest technologies and trends, a theme which will form a bigger part of our mission for 2023 and beyond following a great year for public consultation delivery at Social.

Developers have always been required to carry out pre-application public consultation. As an integrated agency, consultation & engagement is a crucial part of our offer here at Social. Our expertise gives our clients the tools to support their conversations with the public and stakeholders at a critical part of the planning process – to consult far and wide, seeking people’s views on planning and development, helping communities to have a meaningful input in shaping their surroundings.

In 2022, Social has helped clients secure the unanimous approval for a number of key developments and projects across the country. Some highlights include:

We’ve been mindful of the current economic and social struggles in many communities we’ve consulted, of which we’ve learned from to deliver better outcomes for communities as well as clients, both in the short-term and long-term.

Consultation – why is it needed?

Public consultation is the bread and butter of any planning application. It gives the public the opportunity to shape proposals that would have a direct impact on their communities.

Gathering the views of the public is not just ticking a box. It is important that residents are not left behind in the planning process, and they are given the fullest of opportunities to engage with a proposal. This drives our approach to public consultation here at Social – we go above and beyond, exceeding the statutory requirements wherever we can.

We provide our clients with the tools and expertise they need to facilitate meaningful engagement with local residents whether that be through holding drop-in events, effective digital solutions, establishing and facilitating grass-roots working groups, or developing impactful relationships with stakeholders.

Social’s consultation & engagement specialists realise that local people know their communities best.For us, the feedback provided by local people as well as from key community stakeholders is the driving force of consultation delivery. Our team recognises they’ll always be instances where consultation feedback can lead to revelations for a proposed development, enlightening the team in the process – for example; an avenue that causes concern for residents, a shortage of amenity provision, or perhaps a local community group with good standing in the community. This understanding of community engagement that Social possesses is driven by our business-wide approach of telling stories, engaging people and improving lives.

Engaging with communities and stakeholders – what we’ve helped clients to achieve

Throughout 2022, Social has been laser focused on establishing impactful relationships between residents and clients, as well as facilitating meaningful stakeholder engagement across a range of planning projects.

Here are just some of the examples of consultation projects we’ve supported clients with over the course of the year:

Reaching communities: A snapshot of consultation projects from Social and clients through 2022.

Over the past year, we’ve looked at the brilliant strengths of each consultation project and we want to continue innovating and exploring new ways to engage with communities from all walks of life.

Social’s bespoke approach to consultation

With public consultation, there is not one-size-fits-all approach. We support project teams in utilising bold and extraordinary tactics where possible in order to allow hard-to-reach communities to take part and give their views.

In each public consultation project we’ve helped clients deliver over the course of the year, we’ve used unique and innovative tactics of engagement. To every project, we bring our well-rounded knowledge of the planning system, politics, and methods of community engagement from a multitalented team of experts.

The digital space has grown exponentially in recent years, which also has its implications for the planning process and public consultation as a whole. A digital-only approach might perhaps work in some settings, but we know from experience that face-to-face methods are just as valued by local people.

One example of the wide array of face-to-face methods we’ve utilised throughout the year was the establishment of a Community Liaison Group (CLG). For this, we enabled constructive discussions between community stakeholders and members of the project team, providing them with a further opportunity to help shape proposals for new manufacturing space in North Yorkshire. On other projects, we’ve helped clients reach communities with limited digital and internet access, translated material from English to Scottish Gaelic for a Scottish windfarm consultation, arranged local media interviews, with much more proactive delivery on top of this.

Alongside supporting clients meet the need for new housing, manufacturing space, and resilient home-grown energy, Social has been involved with a number of regeneration projects in 2022 and their accompanying consultations. We’ve been mindful of the increasing desire by local authorities to regenerate cities and revitalise towns.

In Leeds, we supported a client on their public consultation to revive a landmark building in the city centre that has been part of local life for generations. For this, consultation attendees could stick on a VR headset to view the proposals in great deal – an entirely unique and innovative technique to inform and engage audiences. We open the door to clients wanting to explore new ways of engagement, whilst also building on our in the process.

Our mission for 2023 and beyond

Social’s fully integrated offer is unique to our region, the planning space and for our clients. For 2023 and beyond, we want to continue innovating our consultation & engagement offer with an increasingly proactive approach, mindful of the times we live in whilst also not being afraid to try new things.

In the coming year, we’ll be exploring ways to build our offer to clients, as well as local people. Our understanding of the planning system and its many elements make our consultation offer all the more distinctive.

If you’d like to know more about how we support clients to deliver consultations, including how we help them transform lives and engage with local people, please contact or