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Creative Consultation Toolkit

Contents What is consultation............................................................ 3 Should we consult................................................................4 Proper consultation (the Gunning Principle).............................. 5 Why you have to consult...................................................6 Why it helps............................................................................ 7 When consultation fits into the timeline....................10 Timeline for consultation................................................. 11 Qualities of good consultation......................................13 How? Create a consultation............................................15



What is consultation? Consultation recognises that People make our cities and environments succeed or fail. How spaces, buildings and environments succeed and the economic, environmental and social benefits they bring are “...Engagement goes beyond asking largely effected by the people for views, rather it probes and who use them. Analysis of value sometimes challenges people’s views. for money, establishing need Most policy makers, proposers, public in capital projects, maximising developers have a view on how a benefits and economic project should proceed and I think sustainability are all components they need to be honest and open of excellence in procurement. about this. Engagement allows for both learning and debate, but most importantly, it encourages rational argument and evidence”

However without high quality Consultation, these other elements of a project may well be negated, reducing community Ken Sterrett enhancement, the opportunity to Senior Lecturer Queens University Belfast, 20yrs consultation experience maximise benefits and increase social sustainability and resilience. External Resources

••Consultation Institute website ••Current Northern Ireland Consultations ••NI Direct - What are consultations ••List of British Government consultations



Should we consult? Unsure? Whilst there is no general legal duty to consult, projects may have consultation requirements specifically set out in statutes or there may be a common law duty to consult,to ensure fairness or because it is normally expected practice. Just Ask ! Organisations which need confirmation about specific or implied requirements for consultation should seek legal advice before the project commences, to determine whether there is any duty in statute or common law to consult at the relevant date when decisions about consultations are to be made. External Links

••This is a link to the text



Proper consultation The Gunning Principles When a decision has been made to consult, the Court has decided that there are four elements that need to be present for consultation to be “proper”. These have been referred to as the “Gunning Principles”. Gunning Principle 1 - The consultation must be at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage. Gunning Principle 2 - The proposer must give sufficient reasons for any proposal to permit of intelligent consideration and response. Gunning Principle 3 - Adequate time must be given for consideration and response. Gunning Principle 4 - And finally, the product of consultation must be conscientiously taken into account in finalising any statutory proposals. External Resources

••View more details on the Gunning principles



Why you have to In addition to the legal requirement established through the courts, various Principles of Consultation have been published. The website of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) currently refers to an undated set of Principles published by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. This is less complete than the Principles which the Commission published in April 2010 (those referred to by OFMDFM do not include Feedback, for example). The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland’s April 2010 Principles refer to the July 2008 Code of Practice published by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform but this Code of Practice was superseded by the Cabinet Office Principles published in July 2012. The January 2013 report by the House of Lords Select Committee makes new recommendations including an independent review of the July 2012 Cabinet Office Principles by Easter 2013. The abridged table left gives a flavour of the different approaches. Links to resources

••Cabinet office principles ••Equality commission (NI) principles ••House of lords select committee ••Status of consultation chart



Why it helps • Avoid costly mistakes. • Get things right first time. • Find the ‘Golden Nuggets’ of information that can transform your project with added value. • Inform your approach, for the community, for the widest benefit. Meet the people Provides the opportunity for you and your team to meet the people for whom your project is intended. It also establishes working relationships, enabling contacts to be made with individuals and organisations with whom further work will be required. Gain trust By making the effort to go to people, to spend time with them and most importantly, to listen and take their views seriously, you will steadily build mutual trust. This will make future working easier, whilst also improving external perceptions and reputations of you and your organisation. Understand the place No one knows a place better than the people that live there. Use this key resource – learn from people about the different parts of their place, its history, its stories, its special bits and how it works on a day to day basis. Don’t think you know it all.



Inform your approach Good consultation will furnish you with vital information that contributes to your approach. The more information you have, the more equipped you are to make good decisions that are likely to work. Test ideas It’s very difficult to get it right first time. Once a relationship is established, well designed and delivered consultation can provide an excellent context within which to test different ideas. Give ownership By working with people, incorporating their suggestions and ideas, you begin to share your project with them. This sense of ownership and even pride is essential to the long term success of a project, especially if your organisation has no commitment to be in that location on a permanent basis. Save time By working with others to make sure you get it right early in the process, you avoid the time consuming process of revisiting, rediscussing and revising proposals. Save money Mistakes or misunderstandings are invariably expensive, with costs incurred through the need for additional resources. Good effective consultation is a shrewd investment in the viability of your project.



Save face Let’s face it, getting it wrong is embarrassing. Confidence in you and your team can be greatly undermined by making mistakes that could have been avoided through consultation. De-risk your project Uncertainty bedevils good project management and deters investors. By carrying out good, effective consultation, a project is systematically de-risked, making it easier to manage and more attractive to its potential backers. Evidence Gather data and evidence which backs your approach.



When consultation fits into the timeline • Start early • Continue to engage • Step back to see the big picture Design Quality This identifies the needs of individuals and considers their well-being. In the context of construction, social sustainability is often the least

••OGC Procurement Guide 09 - Design Quality What is Social Sustainability?

This identifies the needs of individuals and considers their well-being. In the context of construction, social sustainability is often the least considered area but it has the potential to bring the most benefits. It covers a wide range of issues from health and safety, education and training through to social inclusion and eradicating poverty.

••OGC Procurement Guide 11 - Sustainability



Timeline for Consultation 1.

Getting started Getting to know places, local communities and communities of interest helps define the context.


Asking Questions Your project does not operate in isolation and instead joins up with other local needs and aspirations. Find out more about your project linkages and how your project can do more than one job, to give you maximum value.


Diverging Projects are often criticised for not seeing the bigger picture. Doing more than one job makes a project seem difficult, but outcomes are simpler and outweigh the difficulties by working better for a wider user group.


Finding Resources Local people and users know the complications and are a massive project resource.


Designing together with the community Designing the consultation together, recognising the complications, helps to simplify future outcomes. Involving the media early helps to find people that will make a difference.


First Concept First thoughts on how to proceed, bouncing them off colleagues and communities.


Changing right now Recognising that new buildings or infrastructure mean changes in how places are used. Finding ways to start making better use of places right now, so people can see early improvements, encourages them with better uses now, helping the design.




Time and money Working out what is needed and finding ways to pay for this – salaries, consultancy and possible incentive payments or rewards, also including costs of some experiments to try things out.


Launching Deciding whether to start with small activities and arouse public and media curiosity or to launch widely in public – or using a combination of both.

10. Be flexible Know when to stop doing something and try a new tactic. Be responsive and change to suit your developing consultation to achieve the maximum outcome.


Assessing results Staying with the participants keeps people interested and brings new insights.


The golden nugget Recognising and responding to great ideas to improve the concept and bring Added Value.


Giving a voice and publishing The understanding of the project will have greatly increased. People want to see their input and how it influenced the project for good. Sufficient excitement encourages continuing participation as the project develops.

External Resource

••View the interactive timeline on our website



Qualities of good consultation Trust The overarching principle of good consultation is trust. This must be shared between all parties and will take time to grow during the course of the process. Organised Avoid wasting people’s time – including your own. Listening It is vital to that you genuinely listen to those with whom you are consulting. If you don’t, it will almost definitely come back to bite you! Accountability Record every stage of the consultation process. This demonstrates that you are listening, stores valuable information for later use and enables it to be shared with others. The Golden Nugget Listen for that piece of information that may transform your project to achieve maximum Added Value. Transparency By doing as much as possible ‘in public’, you avoid rumour and superstition that can greatly harm consultation processes and projects. Publicise events, publish minutes, and offer up more information to those who require it.



Clarity Communicate effectively by ensuring your messages are simple and your language is understandable to all. Creativity Be imaginative and consider how you can be best achieve your specific objectives in that specific context. Flexibility Consultation processes can be unpredictable, largely due to the diverse range of individuals and personalities involved. This requires an ability to be flexible, so that the unexpected can be handled and the consultation methods altered to gain better results. Fun Consultation often relies on the voluntary input of people. By making their time with you and others pleasant and even enjoyable, resultant outcomes are likely to be far more valuable.



How? Create a consultation Consultation can be undertaken in well over 100 different ways. Creating a consultation process will involve selecting techniques from each of the three categories below. Whilst no two projects are the same, learning from experience is an essential part of the process. Sleeves Up Opens the door to experiential consultation where the consultors and the consultees work together to learn by doing. This group includes people learning about places by going to them, sitting in them, working together in them on a cold day, playing children’s games and rolling up their sleeves to paint out graffiti, pick up litter or plant trees. This is the most resource intensive method initially, however it can produce completely new experiences for people and bring them from scepticism to continuing participation. It can try out new things quickly, provide immediate local benefits and is more likely to be memorable. With short term benefits and long term participation, appropriate use of “Sleeves Up” may prove to be a very good investment. Hands Off is the is the group that contains published written and graphic material, questionnaires, etc. then invites comments by post or e-mail, analyses the replies and prepares a response. It is useful on large scale projects and plans (area plans for example) and is often supplemented by public presentations and meetings to allow for some interaction. “Hands Off” consultations are relatively resource-efficient but unless there is some personal contact or people have to fill in the forms (eg a census),



these methods do not attract many participants unless the consultation topic is particularly controversial. “Hands off� consultations often contain closed questions that do not encourage new ideas. Face to Face is the group that includes public meetings, focus groups, workshops, studios and workshops. This type is useful in local surroundings and depends on the INSIGHT and EXPERIENCE of local people who are willing to participate. This group is ideal for local consultations where it may be supplemented by Hands Off or Sleeves Up techniques. It can bring real vigour and many ideas (sometimes conflicting of course) to the fore. It may need skilled facilitators to manage it and avoid disruptive events.


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Creative Consultation Toolkit  
Creative Consultation Toolkit