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Engaging Young People in the Local Development Framework Process Young People in the Local Development Framework Process Young People in the Local Devlopment

Report to the Engagement Group School of Architecture Planning and Landscape Newcastle University

ďƒ“ Teresa Strachan 2011 1

Executive Summary Progress towards achieving sustainable communities in the last half decade has been driven by two key principles: firstly, that members of the community should be able to contribute to determining the future of their environment and secondly; that organisations should work together to produce coordinated strategies for the delivery of more efficient services. Central Government‟s White Paper of 2006, “Strong and Prosperous Communities”, made provisions for greater partnership in community consultation and public accountability, with the aim of securing a better quality of life for everyone. As this new Act was rolled out, other agendas were beginning to take shape, including the Every Child Matters Green Paper of 2004 which strove to create better transparency in child protection and young people‟s rights and, the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, which introduced a new development planning system that would be built upon a strong public consultation process. Set against this background, the Town Planning profession has risen to the challenge of including in the plan making process all sectors of the community and particularly children, the elderly, people with disabilities, black and ethnic minorities and young people. This report will examine the methods currently being employed to engage one of those hard to reach groups - young people - in the Local Development Framework process. It will identify what Local Planning Authorities are doing with regard to general Community Engagement and will seek to pinpoint the skills that town planners need to undertake this process effectively. The report then moves on to take two case studies, one in North Shields and one in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, where different approaches to community engagement with young people have been followed, to examine whether or not planning can learn from the skills that are employed by other, non – planning, professionals. The use of a short skills survey in the last section of the report has allowed some triangulation of views to take place and has drawn on the expertise of teachers, practitioners in community engagement, young people themselves and young town planners. This survey helped to define a number of skills that would be appropriate for town planners to include in their education pathway, either within their initial training, or later on in their careers, where they could complement and enhance work based experience. Another benefit of analysing the case studies, was that it became evident that the term „skill‟ in practice took on a broader meaning, to include techniques and tools essential to a wider process of consultation, from the setting of objectives and determining a framework, through to providing feedback and creating an ongoing dialogue with the community.












2.1.1 2.1.2 2.1.3 2.1.4 2.1.5

Strategic and Spatial Planning Sustainable Communities Citizenâ€&#x;s rights, Service Efficiency, Delivery and Accountability Planning with the Community Community Engagement



2.2.1 2.2.2

The Rights and Needs of Young People as part of the Community The Benefits of Engaging with Young People and the Techniques used



2.3.1 2.3.2

Public Perception of the Planning Profession Skill development amongst Built Environment Professionals and within the Community



2.4.1 2.4.2 2.4.3

Spatial/ Strategic/ Sustainability Agenda Engaging with Young People The Planning Profession









3.2.1 3.2.2 3.2.3 3.2.4

Overall Analysis Engaging with Young People Effectiveness of Techniques in Engaging with the wider Community The Barriers to Effective Engagement with the wider Community

















5.4 6.0






















SECTION 1.0 INTRODUCTION The Oxford Dictionary defines a „skill‟ as being “the ability to do something well” (2011). This research project set out to identify what skills town planners require to fulfil one of their roles in engaging with the community, within the Local Development Framework process. What skills do town planners need to be equipped with to work at the interface with the community and particularly with young people? The report particularly sought to establish examples of good practice in working to engage young people (those between the ages of 12 and 18), within the Local Development Framework process. The research process has involved a review of the whole community engagement agenda within the drive towards sustainable communities. It has also provided the opportunity to look at what different Local Planning Authorities are doing in Community Engagement and what examples are being held up as good practice for the profession. Examples of what Local authorities are doing in the Region are examined in Section 3. The project has also opened the door on other efforts in community engagement that are taking place outside town planning, where experienced youth and development workers have imparted their knowledge and advice in working with young people. Two Case Studies are examined in North and South Tyneside where different techniques in community engagement have developed from two very different project aims and have led to different skill sets being practised. In Section 4, the Case studies are described and analysed for their use of skills that are important to engaging with young people. A short skills survey was devised and tested on a range of participants in the Case Studies and the results are given and analysed in Section 5. Finally, in Section 6, the report‟s conclusions indicate that whilst initial planning training is providing some of the skills that are important in engaging with young people, that there are still areas of skill development, which are used by practitioners outside planning that would better equip the planner for effective engagement work in the community and with young people in particular. It has been a challenging time in which to undertake this project. Initial project aims for surveys involving Regional Managers of the RTPI‟s Planning Aid service were quickly revised as its staff learnt of their impending redundancies. However, the report does benefit from the support of a number of dedicated Planning Aid staff who were still able to give their time to talk about the good practice that they had experienced in engaging with young people, despite their own personal uncertainty about the future. The research has underlined even more clearly that Planning Aid performed an invaluable role in general „capacity building‟ in the community as a whole and in consultation work with young people specifically.


Local Authority employees gave their time in completing questionnaires, despite pressures of work and the threat of redundancies. School students and student planners also helped to identify which skills the profession needs so that it can engage successfully with young people. Other respected researchers, practitioners, organisations, (including South Tyneside neighbourhood management initiative, the Participatory Evaluation and Appraisal in Newcastle upon Tyne project (PEANuT), local schools (teachers and pupils), youth councils and charitable organisations) also contributed to the search for a better understanding of the skills that town planners require, to engage with young people. A full list of contributors is given in Appendix 2. The skills that many town planners have in community engagement derive from limited learning in this field during their initial training and from their subsequent experience in practice. The report concludes how some essential skill training opportunities can be simply incorporated into these curricula, giving our new town planners the skills to work with members of the community and to successfully compete in the jobs market. The research experience has led to a greater awareness of the complexity of the generic group called „Young Peopleâ€&#x;, the value that engaging with them can bring to Local Development Frameworks, what the process involves and, how the town planning profession can engage more effectively with them.


SECTION 2.0 WHAT DO WE ALREADY KNOW? The subject of engaging young people within the local development planning process cuts across many different agendas and specialist areas of planning theory and practice. The scope of this report is limited to offering only an overview of each of these agendas and a summary of their significance to the research being carried out. The paragraphs below highlight the principal considerations from each of these agendas.



2.1.1 Strategic and Spatial Planning Spatial planning is a place-based, policy-making and community consensus-building process. Development Plan Documents of the twenty-first century no longer aim to deliver just a land-use solution to meet a local need. Instead, spatial planning has evolved into an intricate process of information collecting, analysis, synthesis and evaluation whilst engaging with a powerful local community voice which, is driven by both local and global issues. Healey (2007) notes that such spatial strategy-making (referring to a predominantly urban region) is not something that can be applied to a defined area, but rather, that the region is a “conception of a very complex set of overlapping and intersecting relations, understood in different ways by different people” (2007, p 27). Not least of these groups of „different people‟ (Healey, 2007), are the professional town planners and the community itself (within which lies a vast range of interests, priorities and personal skills and perspectives). Each of these variables will influence how policy making will take place within any location, presenting its own complex range of political, financial, social as well as topographical considerations. The new Local Development Framework process (Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004), established a new method by which local Planning Authorities would create their planning strategies. One of the most significant changes within the new planning policy making process was the emphasis on the engagement of the public at an earlier, more „visionary‟ stage, as provided for by the a Local Planning Authority‟s Statement of Community Involvement (the SCI).


Underlying the need to deliver a more strategically conceived, efficiently delivered and monitored planning service is an awareness that the subject is not just the place itself, but comprises the community and the complexity of the relationships within it. The recent policy initiative through „Total Place‟, the outcome of the Lord Bichard Report 2006, emphasises the value of the location as a community building focus. The study of this relationship between community and place is fundamental to understanding what community engagement is tasked with. All places have their groups, or communities, who may live, work, or visit that location for a variety of reasons. Each group or individual will have their own perspective on the value of that place to their unique lifestyle and quality of life. Each group/ individual will interact with other individuals and groups within that particular location. However, „hard to reach‟ and can become „invisible‟ to formal methods of consultation in the planning process, but are yet no less significant. Hard to reach groups may include the elderly, black and ethnic minorities, gypsies and travellers, the disabled and Young People. PPS 1, „Delivering Sustainable Development‟ states, “ Identifying and understanding the needs of groups who find it difficult to engage with the planning system is critical to achieving sustainable development objectives.” (2005, paragraph 42) Hague and Jenkins (2005) state: “Thus, as with governance in general, planning is seeking ways to become more legitimate and deliberately targeting different groups other than the place based public, e.g. young people.” (2005, page 217). They suggest that a broader skill portfolio amongst town planners is required to manage these challenges. 2.1.2 Sustainable Communities For the last twenty years, the term „Sustainable‟ has worked its way to the fore of strategy making and plan delivery. Beginning with Local Agenda 21 (LA21) in 1992, as a locally focussed project springing from the Rio Earth Summit, the term „sustainability‟ has grown to include the need for a well considered social, economic and environmental assessment of local policy actions. The Local Government Act 2000, made a further requirement of Local Planning Authorities in the form of new Community Strategies, with the detail of how the LA21 would actually relate to a Community Strategy being constructed at a Local Authority level. “Sustainable communities balance and integrate the social, economic and environmental aspects of places to meet residents‟ needs today and in the future. Sustainable communities are diverse, reflecting local circumstances, but share common characteristics and offer people: a decent home that they can afford; a community in which they want to live and work; the chance


to develop their skills and interests; access to jobs and excellent services; and the chance to get engaged in their community and to make a difference” (Homes and Communities Agency 2006). Planning Policy Statement 12, „Local Spatial Planning‟ (2008), indicates that the responsibility for creating sustainable communities lies with Local Planning Authorities. Further, Local Development Frameworks require a Sustainability Appraisal on policies set out within the Core Strategy or other Local Development Documents (Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004). The term „sustainable community‟ is defined in research by Rogerson, et al., 2011, to mean a place that is responsive to local community views. Such a place would be constantly consulting and reflecting upon how it provides for its population. They closely link the ability for a community to become sustainable and retain its sustainability through the availability of skills amongst professionals and the wider community. The sustainability agenda has lead to the rethinking of the role of planning alongside the agenda for sustainable communities and “places the planning system and planning more centrally within spatial development” (Rogerson et al 2011, p507) The reassessment of how planning connects with the community and the skills that this requires from both sides is discussed further below. The new demands on the planning profession to facilitate the delivery of Neighbourhood Plans in The Big Society in the pursuit of sustainable communities, still has to be properly assessed (Decentralisation and Localism Bill 2010). 2.1.3 Citizen‟s rights, Service Efficiency, Delivery and Accountability In parallel with the recent evolution of the spatial planning process, individual rights and responsibilities of the citizen have shaped the way in which the public perceives the governance mechanism. Smith (in Hague and Jenkins) explains that, “it is perhaps the persuasiveness of consumerism as the defining mode of everyday life that has most fundamentally shaped the new politics and attitudes towards participation and place identity” (2005, page 47) Within this new culture of transparency, accountability and blame, the public, either as an individual, or as a collective group, both expects and can demand minimum levels of service provision. Political groups can be mobilised to represent local rights and needs and the spatial planning system can often appear as the „wrong-doer‟ in this process as it strives to protect the rights of a collective population against those individual land owners, where a complex range of factors for each party prohibits a formulaic


pathway to reconciliation being available. Healey (2007), explains that the rights of the individual or public can be considered “in relation to processes, of participation in governance, to be consulted and informed” (date page 296). In spatial planning, the rights of the individual citizen manifest themselves as a right to be consulted on a local planning application, or consultation within the local development framework process. Rights to challenge planning decisions or the failure of a government body to take adequate account of private interests also afford the public a right to participate at a certain level of governance. The Collaborative (Healey 2007) approach to planning which emerged following the new Government of 1997, may now be regarded as an inadequate model in what is recognised as a complex community with a sophisticated set of rights. The Decentralisation and Localism Bill of 2010 introduces the new collective right of the public to the „right to build‟, establishing a less consultative and more interventionist approach to determining where new housing development should proceed within the scope of the new „Neighbourhood Plan‟. The era of the Audit, the Ombudsman and the Right to Appeal and has created a process where quality in content struggles for co-existence with the demands of performance indicators and quantity in output. This is compounded by the recent squeeze on finance which affecting service availability and staffing levels. Ultimately, it could be the very quality of the existing planning service itself and its processes, as opposed to the potential quality and content of the final planning decision/ policy output that will determine whether or not the community considers it to be an effective system. Morphet (2011) identifies the difficulty that the planning debate experiences where it is caught in the dilemma of “what „is‟ and what ought to be” (p85). Overcoming existing public perceptions of service quality and recent personal/ community experiences, significantly colour the aspirations of any interest or community group and its ability to contribute to a planning policy making process. The „Duty to Involve‟ (Morphet 2011), reminds us of the on-going requirement to support the public as the „user‟ of planning and other local government services in the decision making process. This context highlights the possibilities of streamlining planning with other local government services as a combined consultation exercise, with its outputs and targets, but also illustrates the possibilities for different stages of consultation, longer term consultation exercise, the specialist skills that might be required by the professional and the need to tailor the consultation towards the interest group concerned. Morphet identifies this as „Institutional Capital‟ (2011 page102) where the community begins to manage its own affairs at a local scale.


2.1.4 Planning with the Community The Collaborative approach to planning which has defined the strategic planning and partnership investment era since the turn of the twenty first century has, with experience and increased practice, developed into a need to look less at covering over the differences in community groups, to one of recognising and responding to those differences to progress desirable long lasting policy. Academic debate continues as to whether Collaborative planning and achieving „consensus‟ has meant that this involves the ironing out of valuable differences in community opinion and interest and the possible standardisation of how we go about involving the community in that process. Healey establishes that the „consensus‟ that she has identified was: “Some kind of shared appreciation of the parameters of a problem situation, the values and ways of understanding at stake, the distributive consequences and how to address them, and a recognition that decisions reached were legitimately arrived at, at least by those involved in collaborative processes” (2006 page 320) Stepping outside the actual possibilities of a collaborative planning process, the prevalence of the demands from different sectors of a complex community, with their differing needs and values, requires a specialist, considered and skilful approach from the planning professional. Forester recognises the value of bringing different elements of the community together and that in doing so that they can learn from one another and their „collective responsibilities” (2009 page 34). He distinguishes between interests that might „clash‟ and where bargaining and negotiation might be required to those where there is a „conflict‟ of interest and in this latter scenario, questions what can be done. It is this discussion that subtly introduces the value of recognising differences in the community in which town planning aims to plan for, where new planning skills can begin to be identified and developed. More detail is discussed on these skills below.


2.1.5 Community Engagement Until the Third Way emerged at the very end of the Twentieth century, „Public Participation‟ or „Community Consultation‟ remained a generic description for mostly tokenistic public consultation undertaken under the former Development Plan Schemes. Early progress in community consultation had been advocated in the Skeffington Report of 1969 and the planner‟s role in this would be one of „facilitator‟. The term „Community Engagement‟ only became part of a planners‟ vocabulary towards the end of the twentieth century, along with the phrases, „Capacity Building‟ and „Community Empowerment‟. Community Engagement reflected a new approach to consulting with the public – something that would be purposeful, meaningful and would hope to endure. The possibilities for empowerment through today‟s Community Engagement projects can still be compared to the various rungs on Sherry Arnstein‟s Ladder of Participation (1969), which identified the opportunities for power sharing within public decision-making. This model is still a widely accepted benchmark, against which to assess today‟s community engagement techniques, ranging from sharing of information with the community on the bottom rung of the ladder to complete devolution of power to the stakeholder at the top of the ladder. There is a school of thought that maintains that Community Engagement is still detached from the objectives of spatial planning and is a process that has limited value to the community it is meant to support (Smith in Hague and Jenkins 2005, page 53). Others see it as a valuable exercise in its own right, which satisfies the public need to be heard and feel part of the plan making process (Habermas as cited in Smith 2005). Smith suggests that in fact such participatory approaches to planning still have the potential to advance the promotion of spatial planning beyond a territorial concept to “incorporate and strengthen socio-cultural embedded place identities” (2005, page 54). This would be done through developing links between the local community level and the policy of the region or more strategic level. From 1981 in England, „Planning for Real‟ and more latterly, Planning Aid (after its re-launch in 2003 and until the withdrawal of Central Government funding in 2011), have held consultation events on issues either affecting the local community or to support the emerging Local Development Frameworks.




2.2.1 The Rights and Needs of Young People as part of the Community The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states at Article 12: “When adults are making decisions that affect children, children have the right to say what they think should happen and have their opinions taken into account.” Communities are not homogeneous in nature, but have many characteristics and profiles. This report particularly concentrates on one group of the community – Young People - and studies how it engages with the planning system. The United Nations defines „Youth‟ as being those members of the community who are between the ages of the age of 15 and 24 years. Children would therefore fall within the age group up to 14, but Article 1 of the United Nations Convention also defines „children‟ as persons up to the age of 18. This age group is granted certain rights and protection for those within its Member States. The United Nations subdivides youth further into teenagers (13-19) and young adults (20- 24) to distinguish between the health, sociological and psychological issues that they face. For the purposes of this study, „Young People‟ will span the years of 12 – 18, as being within the parameters of the secondary school age range. Even within this group, there are elements that cross over into other communities, e.g. male, female, young people with disabilities, those from ethnic minorities, those who study, those who are unemployed and those who work, as well as those belonging to different faith groups or having different leisure interests. Young people mature and develop and with this their communities change and take on new dynamics. This is not a static or transparent sector of the community. Disabled children and Young People have particularly felt disengaged from policy making and planning decisions, despite requirements to seek those views and feelings under The Children Act of 1989 (Joseph Rowntree Federation 2001). The Children‟s Society led the „Ask Us‟ project used a multi media approach to research the issues that were important to young disabled people in advance of talking about any policy agenda. A second initiative, „Two way Street‟, led by Triangle and the NSPCC involved making training videos to assist professionals to develop skills to communicate more effectively with disabled young people. One of the findings of this project was that the young people identified a real barrier to engagement as being not the


actual physical impairments, but the reluctance of professionals to use different methods of communicating with them. Both projects received funding from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. With high profile events as the Victoria Climbie tragedy, the 2003 Green Paper, „Every Child Matters‟ (as well as the more recent „Baby P‟ tragedy) a centrally initiated and locally coordinated response has emerged with the aim of improving child protection. The 2004 Children Act led to the establishment of a Children‟s Commissionaire, charged with responsibility of raising awareness of views and needs of children in England and to require local authorities to establish a Director of Children‟s‟ services (for education and social services). Councils have adopted strategies for the protection of children within their jurisdiction and have put measures in place to allow young people to „have a say‟, including youth forums and youth councils within schools. Youth Agenda 21 also gave a specific purpose to engaging young people in supporting their communities. Sarkission and Hurford (2010) summarises the challenge of engaging with young people. “They are looking for a sense of trust in the engagement process, as well as a serious commitment from organisers to listen to, respect and value their views.” (page 163) 2.2.2 The Benefits of Engaging with Young People and the Techniques used. For young people, McGrath et al suggests that the influences on what makes young people decide to become engaged include such factors as a feeling of being safe, having someone to talk to and who will offer general support, someone that they can trust and that will treat them fairly (2009). In their research into Youth Engagement in Florida and Ireland, Brennan et al noted the link between engaging with young people and broader community development, as well as contributing to the personal development of the young people themselves (2009). The United Nations states, “Youth comprise nearly 30 per cent of the world's population. The involvement of today's youth in environment and development decision-making and in the implementation of programmes is critical to the long-term success of Agenda 21…It is imperative that youth from all parts of the world participate actively in all relevant levels of decision-making processes because it affects their lives today and has implications for their futures…” (2009) Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation states that through being involved in engagement activities can enable young people to develop new skills and knowledge, which can prepare them for adulthood and it can also link them to others within the community (Coombe 2002). Percy-Smith suggests that it is important to allow young people to build relationships with other members of the community. Activities, such as intergenerational projects can offer young people a variety of ways to engage which


he considers important to allow them to feel less institutionalised, for example using locations such as public spaces, schools, neighbourhoods, association and other organisations (2010). Coombe‟s research examined how Local Authorities in England and Wales approached the subject of involving young people in decision-making. In Coombe‟s survey, nine out of ten local authorities stated that involving young people was important to the council and more than seven out of ten were currently running projects to involve young people. The report noted that one of the benefits of engaging with young people is that it allows them to learn skills that can then be applied to other areas of their life, including those required for seeking employment. Young people also learnt research skills as part of the engagement process and were then able to work with their peers to maximise the engagement project‟s impact. Local Authority employees were also able to learn what issues were important to young people and in the case of Kirklees Council these issues were fed into strategic decisionmaking processes (Involving Young Citizens Equally, IYCE) (2002). Specific techniques considered by other community development researchers to be helpful in engaging with young people include: encouraging young people to reflect on their experiences (Child and Youth Services 2008); to promote trust with young people (Laurian 2009); promotion of youth mentoring; the use of E technologies to promote engagement with such hard to reach groups (Evans –Cowley, Hollander 2010); and that young people need space both in a metaphorical and literal sense of the phrase (Kudva, Driskell 2009). Forester states that there are limitations to the success that can be achieved in engaging young people and that this is more representative of a „hybrid democracy‟ (1999). Research by Mycock of Huddersfield University suggested that despite moves to include young people through school and local youth councils for participation in local politics, they “lacked the power to influence decision-making” (2010). Sarkission and Hurford also make the point that despite the efforts to integrate young people into decision making through youth forums, conferences etc, that „we have not matched this enthusiasm with an equivalent effort to build a coherent conceptual framework to inform policy and practice‟ (2010 page163). Sarkission and Hurford cite excellent examples of community engagement from different parts of the world, including Melbourne and Vancouver that identify some valuable pointers for engaging with young people. Key suggestions (from which an analysis of appropriate engagement skills could be developed) included:  Making sure that the young people were representative group  Working from the young person‟s perspective


 

Teaching and learning of skills Acknowledging and celebrating young people‟s experience (2010 page 166)

They conclude that, “ Relatively few resources are available for engaging with young people. When we neglect their experiences, ideas and feelings, we miss out on creative solutions to future dilemmas.” (2010, p174) Despite the obvious need and glaring advantages to be gained from undertaking community engagement with young people in the plan making process, there is very little in the way of specific advice for town planners. The Community Engagement in Plan Making module (Planning Advisory Service/ Entec, 2010), which was published since the commencement of this research, identifies a number of levels of good practice in community engagement. However, it does not go as far as to explain how „hard to reach‟ groups, such as young people, can be engaged in the plan making process, although references to examples of general good practice can be explored in the document.

2.3 THE PLANNING PROFESSION 2.3.1 Public Perception of the Planning Profession Carrying the responsibility for engaging with Young People as a „hard to reach‟ group, in matters that relate to their environment, is a challenging role. Many planners, however, do not feel that they have adequate skills with which to confidently do this. Combined with this is continuing battle that town planners face to establish an image as a „people-friendly‟ profession. Consultation-weary communities from projects that only sought to „inform‟ and not „involve‟ have created a widespread suspicion of the planning profession‟s ability to listen. The Sustainable Communities agenda did temporarily raise the profile and value of the profession as being more likely to be able to work with local communities, but recent political changes since 2010 have resurrected one of the politician‟s favourite distractions - to undermine the professionalism of the town planner. In early March 2011, Prime Minister, David Cameron criticised the planning system in a speech to the Conservative Party, stating that “ town hall officials who take forever with those planning decisions that can be make or break for a business are among the “enemies of enterprise” that his


government would take on.” (RTPI March 11, 2011) It is against this background that planners have to win themselves respect in the community and strive to continue with the new Localism Agenda. 2.3.2 Skill development amongst built environment professionals and within the community Illsley states, “Planners possess a range of skills that make them well suited to a community planning approach. In addition to key planning skills such as spatial awareness, strategy formulation, aesthetic and design abilities, planners have expertise in facilitating discussion and debate, problem solving, negotiation, mediation and advocacy, collaboration and partnership working”(2002). This is a very confident view of the profession‟s skills and one that the rest of this report aims to explore in more detail in relation to community engagement. Recent research by academics, government organisations and professional bodies has moved into exploring the skills that promote sustainable communities. The Egan Review: “Skills for Sustainable Communities”, 2004, coincided with the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, which heralded the new Local Development Framework process. Egan identified a range of skills that would be required by built environment professionals to bring about the sustainable communities agenda. Eight sets of skills were identified and the eighth, „Generic Skills‟ listed “Inclusive Visioning”, Stakeholder Management”, “Communication”, “Conflict Resolution”, and “customer awareness” as having relevance to engaging with the community as a whole. The full range of skills established a renewed purpose for the town planning profession in its role in delivering sustainable communities. Egan recognised that there was not only the need to educate new entrants into the built environment professions, but also develop those skills of the professionals already in practice (2004). Kitchen‟s assessment of skills required for Planning practice suggests that of all the specific skills groups listed, that the planner‟s ability to be reflective is of great value (2007). This follows in the same vein as Schon‟s thinking (1971 and 1983) and has been influential in changing the approach that the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has adopted in its procedures for assessing spatial planning competencies as part of the application for Chartered membership through the Assessment of Professional Competence. Kitchen concludes, “The development of skills for planning practice has to be seen as a continuous process rather than as a job mainly for initial planning education; and the planning practitioners who are likely to be the most successful are likely to be the ones who are most efficient and effective at the accomplishment of this particular task.”


The RTPI skills survey of 2005 looked more closely at the skills that members considered themselves to be developed in and those where further training was considered by the respondent to be desirable. Both male and female RTPI members identified skills for community planning as an area for future development and both male and female considered it to be an area of strength (although female more than male). Analysed by age group, those members over 41 years old showed that they felt they had considerably more strength in community planning, over the younger membership. Overall, fifty four percent of all members interviewed stated that they wanted to further develop their skills in community development. In the private consultancy sector, the 2009-2010 A-Z of Planning Consultants indicated that within the northeast of England alone, 24 out of 32 practices stated that they undertook Community Participation as one of their areas of expertise. The Audit Commissionâ€&#x;s findings of 2008 identified a forthcoming shortage of planners over the following five years. Whilst the turn in the global economy has determined that the demand for planners has not fulfilled the predictions of this study, a further report (HCA/ Arup, 2007) identified the shortage of community engagement skills in both local authorities and other organisations. Morphet emphasises the importance of continuing to learn from, train and be supported by those who have the required skills. “What seems clear is that consultation benefits come from a more professional approach and it may no longer be something that planners can do as part of their skill set without seeking additional training or support from others with more expertise and experienceâ€? (2011, page 104). Recent research commissioned by the RTPI, by Rogerson et al. suggests a much more complex picture for the creation of sustainable communities, where skills and knowledge should be transferred amongst professionals, community members and the third sector, in a sharing of engagement responsibilities. This gives a new perspective to and opportunity for community engagement, particularly in relation to that community engagement which involves young people.




2.4.1 Spatial/ Strategic/ Sustainability Agenda      

The agenda for people to feel that they want to live in a place – making it a sustainable community A community is complex and not necessarily place based. A place can have intra-community ties. Many communities exist within a place, with hard to reach groups remaining invisible. There is a duty to consult, involve and for the public to „build‟. Community engagement can take place at many different levels, with different groups, over different periods of time.

2.4.2 Engaging Young People    

Young People have rights and legal protection. Young People want to be consulted and want to know that their views will influence decision-making Within the Young People group there are many different elements. Consulting young people can bring about learning of new skills for them and for the professional.

2.4.3 The Planning Profession      

Skills involved in engaging with young people are un-complicated – gaining trust, listening, on-going, feeding back, allowing them to research and consult with their peers, understanding that they need a „place‟. The planning profession still does not have the ideal image with which to instil trust and confidence that things will happen or that people will be listened to. Planners want to develop their community planning skills Is the role of the planner an advocate or mediator in community engagement? Should planners yield to other professionals that have the skills required for community engagement? Is training for planners in these skills the solution, or should we allow the experts do what they do best?


3.0 COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PRACTICE IN THE NORTHERN REGION 3.1 BACKGROUND TO THE RESEARCH The second major part of the research project was to identify what methods and techniques of community engagement practice were being used in the within the Local Development Framework process, within the northern region of England. The purpose of this part of the research was to lead the respondents to reflect upon not only what techniques they considered to be effective, but also to identify why they were considered to be effective. This stage of the research also gave the opportunity to seek any particular skills that were considered to be required for effective community engagement and whether or not the planning authority had experience in specifically engaging with young people. By asking the respondents to list their own effective community engagement exercises removed the judgement from the hands of the researcher. The research project was more concerned with how the planning authorities deemed the method to be effective. It is accepted that a judgement on how effective the method was considered to be would also tie in to the original objectives of the exercise itself, which were not requested in the questionnaire. The purpose of the research and the analysis was not to make the assessment of how well the outcome of each engagement project met its original objectives, but it was to establish a broad picture of the types of techniques employed by a range of local authorities and the types of criteria on which they deemed them to have been effective. By identifying some of the skills that the respondents felt were essential for effective Community engagement, a clearer picture could be built up of how well equipped the planning profession felt it was able to undertake community engagement. Asking respondents about the engagement with young people also gave an insight into the broader agenda of involving hard to reach groups within the LDF process and also led to some identification of specific skills in this area and instances where techniques were adopted to good effect. One added benefit gained from this research stage was that amongst the respondents‟ answers many „barriers‟ to effective community engagement were identified and this has enabled the report to assess whether or not the further development of processes, techniques or skills might more greatly assist in delivering effective community engagement.


A total of 48 local authorities were contacted by email and asked to complete a simple electronic questionnaire. A total of 14 local authorities completed and returned the questionnaire and many of these attached accompanying reports and publicity material relating to their community engagement activities. Of those 14 local authorities that responded, 12 had undertaken consultation exercises on their LDF with young people and their representative organisations. Planning Aid had been involved in delivering those consultation events or exercises for young people in 5 of those 12 local authorities. The replies have given a useful officer insight into the practicalities of running community engagement activities as part of a structured LDF consultation exercise. However, it has not given (and was not intended to identify) a comprehensive picture of every community engagement activity being delivered in the Region. Neither does the report give a detailed overview of the provisions made within the Statements of Community Involvement (SCIs), but where the responding authority has attached the document for specific reference to priority areas/ aims, then these facts has been included as part of the data. The data has been collated and presented in a way that removes the name of the Planning Authority from the engagement exercise and there is no direct correlation of specific activities with the identified barriers to engagement, or engagement skills required. The structure in which the data is presented is developed from the Planning Advisory Service „Community Engagement in Plan Making‟ (2010). The different engagement methods or techniques that are recommended by PAS fall into four categories: Engagement Objectives; Informing; Consulting; and Involving. The collation of the data in this report extends these different levels of community engagement to include two more categories: „Supporting‟ and „Devolving‟ and the whole process is extended to include an „Ongoing‟ stage and an overall „Integrated approach‟ which emerged as being necessary from some of the responses received from practice. It is considered that this spread of levels of engagement better represents the different levels that were identified in Arnstein‟s Ladder of Participation (1969). The responses from the Local planning Authorities cover the range of Community Engagement levels indicated in the developed model. Each example has its own value in the sharing of good practice in this complex field of work. Using the different levels of Community Engagement identified in the Planning Advisory Service/ Entec „Good Practice Guide for Community Engagement in Plan Making‟ (2010), the following model for analysing the LPA responses was developed.


1. Establishing Engagement Objectives, plus Pre-Engagement, Researching, Planning, Organising

2. Engagement Level A. Informing

B. Consulting

C. Involving

D. Supporting

E. Devolving

3. Integrating with other services

4. Ongoing Engagement


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA Barriers to effective Engagement Identified Skills identified for Community Engagement

1. Establishing Engagement Objectives, plus Pre-Engagement, Researching, Planning, Organising

Managing - Establish links with other officers, networks, committees, partnerships, e.g. other Steering groups, Engagement Development officers, Community Networks, Learning and Skills Partnerships, other departments within the Council, Local Strategic/ Enterprise Partnerships. - Establish relationships with other delivery partners and the community, e.g. „Ideas for Change‟ project to establish from outset what would make a sustainable community. - Create working partnerships with expert organisations and facilitators, e.g. CABE to ensure delivery of spatial thinking and that this is well communicated; take a „holistic‟ approach and emphasis on „place making‟. - Careful planning of programme of events. Delivering - „Kick-off‟ event for maximum publicity. - Media programme of coverage and initial publicity for project. Working with Young People - Establish links with Youth Council, Youth Assembly, Youth Forum or other Youth group - Awareness within the Council of planning – developing political and corporate buy-in


Distrust of the Council Limited dedicated resources/ officers time and skills Difficult to identify Youth, initial questionnaire to Youth Forum met with a very poor response. Marketing, planning, organising.


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

2.Engagement level A Informing Managing - Direct phone line to a planning officer - Open door policy to local Regeneration office - Choosing an attractive/ prestigious venue for event Delivering - Media coverage, e.g. television and radio - Exhibitions/ displays at different times of the day and week held in market places, libraries, supermarkets, leisure centres, community centres, tents in parks, housing warden‟s office, health centre, skills centres - Touring exhibitions - Presentations - „Walk in‟ events where the public can ask planning officers questions, drop-in sessions on themes. - Special invites by name - Letters/ postcards/ emails/ telephone calls to consultees - Newspaper articles/ press releases/ LDF newsletters/ articles in ethnic magazines and more general community magazines - Leaflets given out by street team, e.g. from local radio station - Policy documents available in summary form, large print, different languages, both hard and electronic form - Informing by word of mouth - Workshops for planning agents and developers - Workshops for officers and members - Dedicated website with hyperlinks to further information - Delivery of information to council forums representing minority groups Working with Young People - Fun events such as „Be a planner for the day‟ for schools and young people - Carnival events in schools, to involve parents and family - Programmes run by outside experts for schools to learn about the environment, e.g. CABE „Learning to see‟ - Posters in schools Generate early discussions with Youth Forum on general views of where development should happen over next 15 Years.


How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA


General good attendance numbers Good attendance from people previously not involved in the LDF process High level of interest in children‟s events and good feedback afterwards Increased awareness of planning policy and planning issues (although difficult to measure)

Barriers to effective Engagement Identified


Sometimes schools did not pass the information/ invites on to pupils and parents School events can be conceptual rather than factual Although people attend public meetings, not everyone is able to become engaged in the topic discussions for various reasons

Skills identified for Community Engagement


Make clear to people about planning process, topic, timescales and expectations from Council‟s perspective. Know the audience Avoid use of planning jargon; speak plainly to residents and businesses Do not approach the activity from the „corporate‟ viewpoint Tailor material to different community groups and at the appropriate level Invite young people individually or by the group concerned Be understanding when people get confused Explain that some things will not change/ cannot be changed so as not to raise expectations


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

B. Consulting

Organising - Training for the public on using consultation software - Provide packages for those who are going to be affected, especially by demolition of property - Meet with external groups such as Local Area partnerships, Developers, LSPs - Meet with other governance bodies within Council - Set up a working group in relation to hard to reach groups e.g. Gypsies and Travellers, Gypsy Liaison officer, Housing Manager, Health visitors, Traveller Education Services, Community workers and Planning Officers - Consultation with college students Delivering - Workshops to discuss themes and choices, or to gather views and priorities - Mini „whole community‟ event on options within the same venue - Community group meetings to establish views on topics - Breakout discussion groups for smaller groups on specific topics, including one to one support - Interactive mapping event - Interactive exhibitions on the street - Questionnaires for views on key issues - Leaflets with tear-off strips for comments on issues - LDF newsletters on key consultation issues - „Provoke‟ a reaction at workshops and meeting with robust options e.g. site specific proposals or detailed designs for housing sites - Breakfast meetings with various stakeholders - Make consultation policy documents available in rural libraries, mobile libraries and pubs



How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA

Working with Young People - Fun school/ youth events to develop priorities within themes, e.g. ‟Be a Planner for the day‟ on a housing theme - Fun events facilitated by expert partners, e.g. „Learning to see‟ by CABE - Fun activities such as quizzes and using historical documents such as old photos - World café and mind mapping events - Create ambassadors to consult in turn with their community group - IT questionnaire for young people on the use/ opinions of open space - Planning Aid helped to consult with Young People and other hard to reach groups - „Be a Planner for the Day‟ event for schools and young people - Consultation with Youth Council, Youth Assembly, Youth Forums and Community Networks - Consultation with college students - IT questionnaire for young people on the use/ opinions on open space


Interesting feedback despite difficult issues to manage Good attendance from those not involved before in the LDF process Ability to „shape‟ policies/ proposals The development of new networks with hard to reach groups An understanding of the views of the community The development of methods of community engagement Awareness within the Council of planning and of developing political and corporate buy-in Discovering that there is some „pro-development‟ element in the community


Barriers to effective Engagement Identified


Skills identified for Community Engagement


School events can be conceptual rather than consultative When people focus on specific issues they sometimes do not grasp the overall LDF process and the difference between the spatial and the strategic aspects of the LDF or Development Plan Document Policy documents can be confusing and instead, consultation should focus people‟s minds more with questionnaires The public do not have a general understanding of the design and use of public spaces People do not tend to comment on issues beyond their street – need to form groups and learn about the wider community If group numbers are too high, people can feel intimidated and do not contribute so well In rural areas, the population is too dispersed to be able to create groups/ workshops Parish Councils need to see proposals first before wider consultation – need to build this time period into the consultation programme Proposals are either too technical or controversial to enable true consultation to take place There will never be consensus, but only debate as so many different views Listening carefully to community Speaking with clarity and in plain English Being confident Engage „effectively‟ with the public and the range of groups within the community Be friendly, polite, humble and be able to relate to people Go out to meet the public and be proactive Facilitate discussion Know which issues are relevant to the audience and tailor material according to the group Avoid over consultation Introduce some immediate actions to enable community to prove that promises can be fulfilled Organisational skills – need to know what to find out (outcomes) and how you are going to do it Honesty – if promise response in a time period make sure you deliver Aim to gain trust and respect Show that nothing has been decided until the consultation has taken place Know how to use the information gathered Be familiar with making presentations and the use of IT (especially for engaging with young people) Be resource efficient – using existing groups and events „Post Structuralist‟ sailing skills („as taught by Professor Jean Hillier at Newcastle‟)


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA Barriers to effective Engagement Identified Skills for Community Engagement identified

C. Involving

Organising - Create an „ambassador‟ for sections of the community, so that they can involve their wider interest group within the engagement process Delivering - „Mini whole community‟ event - Workshops to identify issues that interest the group - By registering an interest, groups refine issues and options further before final formal consultation process took place - Training the public to use consultation software - Bus tour of area and specific sites - Question and answer sessions with planning officer - Responding to individual comments made through other stages/ methods of engagement - Pre-registered workshops to gather views and work up ideas Working with Young People - Learning to see‟ event run by CABE - „Postcards from the future‟ and model making event with artist - „Be a planner for the day‟ event for schools and young people on a housing theme - „World café‟ and mind map work for different community members - Create an „ambassador‟ for sections of the community, so that they can involve their wider group within the process - Good attendance from those not previously involved in the process - Local people help to develop criteria for „ local needs‟ for the Core Strategy and that are appropriate to their local area - Working with schools and young people can be conceptual rather than spatial or consultative


Go out to meet the public and be proactive An acceptance that the idea or decision may come from the community Know how to use the information gathered


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA Barriers to effective Engagement Identified Skills for Community Engagement identified

D. Supporting

Organising - Create an „ambassador‟ for sections of the community, so that they can involve their wider group within the process Delivering - Planning Aid assisted residents to understand the planning process, get involved and make representations - Creating partnerships with external organisations to give them a channel for their input into the process - Workshops for planning agents and developers - Training for public to use consultation software Working with Young People - Working with existing community groups and networks to establish their input to the process - Create an „ambassador‟ for sections of the community, so that they can involve their wider group within the process - Interest/ involvement in the process from those not previously involved in the LDF


None specifically identified


Go out to meet the public and be proactive An acceptance that the idea or decision may come from the community Know how to use the information gathered


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA Barriers to effective Engagement Identified Skills for Community Engagement identified

E. Devolving

Organising - „Power to shapeâ€&#x; delivery plan where partners develop a delivery strategy - Town and Parish Councils instigate interest in the LDF and to make the most of their links with the Community - Business forums consider ways that they can be involved in the process and to influence the design of the area - Create an ambassador for sections of the community including young people - Delivering Working with Young People - Create an ambassador for sections of the community including young people -

None specifically identified


None specifically identified


An acceptance that the idea or decision may come from the community Know how to use the information gathered


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

3. Integrating with other services

Organising - Integrating with external groups and delivery partners, e.g. LSP, Sustainable Communities, Sustainable Natural Environment Group, Flood Liaison Group, Renaissance Town Team, Outdoor Play Space Consultation Group, Rural Partnership, Community Groups and networks, expert facilitators, artists, designers, landlords and Planning Aid. - Integrating with Internal Council officer groups and delivery partners, e.g. Officers group, Community Engagement Development Officer/ group, Housing, Youth Council/ Assembly, or those that have knowledge of community groups - Links with National Park Management Plan - Partners with neighbouring authorities Delivering Working with Young people - External groups, e.g. Outdoor Play space Consultation Group, Community Groups and networks, expert facilitators, artists - Establishing partner working with existing Youth forums e.g. Youth Council/ Assembly

How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA Barriers to effective Engagement Identified Skills for Community Engagement identified


None specifically identified


None specifically identified


None specifically identified


Community Engagement Stage (Developed and extended from PAS model) / LPA Responses Examples from practice

How Effectiveness is measured by the LPA Barriers to effective Engagement Identified Skills for Community Engagement identified

4. Ongoing Engagement

Organising - Maintaining a database of consultees to be kept informed - Ongoing programme of consulting stakeholders and communities e.g. Community Action groups, Area Action group, Local access group, Community Forums, Youth forums, Parish Council Forums, „Mosaicâ€&#x; project outreach group for young people - Reviewing appropriateness of policies e.g. Equality Impact Assessment of policies, quarterly Equalities forum - Management Plan review Delivering - Generate feedback from the community over a longer period - Feedback to the community on points of interest raised in engagement process on the policy document - Newsletters, magazines - Availability of hard and electronic policy documents Working with Young People - Face book, website pages - Mosaic project outreach group for young people and others -

None specifically given


Dispersed rural population


Follow up and progress issues and report back to groups Use of website with photos of events and summary of main findings Identify methods to community of how they can stay involved in the process


3.1 ANALYSIS The entries above are as reported in the responses to the questionnaires. The list has not been added to by the author, but only „sorted‟ by level of engagement and by description within the practice examples identified. The schedules offer a valuable insight into how local authorities in the Northern Region offer a range of approaches to Community Engagement as part of their LDF process. Further work could be done to complete the schedule – to identify other barriers and skills through the examination of the SCI or by studying more closely any of the Authorities as a case study - if this was considered to be of value. The entries are retained in a loose and generic form here because, without more in depth investigation the author feels unable to make a value judgement on each of the examples as being good practice, or otherwise. The examples of engagement within each level cannot be correlated to a measure of effectiveness, as the respondent was only asked to supply information on those activities that were considered by them to be effective. They would have been unlikely to make a negative judgement on their own Authority‟s success in engaging the community to an outside party. 3.1.1 Overall Analysis Examples of Community Engagement activity that were most commonly cited in the survey were at the „Consultation‟ level. Within the Local Development Framework process, such consultation exercises on a set of predetermined issues and options, is commonly a minimum requirement of a Statement of Community Involvement. Examples of „Informing‟ and „Involving‟ Engagement were not as frequently given in the responses. It is encouraging that Local Authorities are recognising „Involving‟ as an achievable and valuable level of engagement within the LDF process. „Involving‟ refers to the more proactive working with the community, where decisions on such matters as, setting issues and options, or priorities, or establishing a longer term dialogue with the community are seen to be valuable techniques to understanding the community‟s aspirations for an area and can be valuable for further work over the longer term. The remainder of the Engagement process components: Engagement Objectives; Supporting; Devolving; Integrating and Ongoing were less well represented in the survey. There may be many other examples of effective community engagement that the respondents just did not highlight in the survey. Some practice examples of particular note from each component of the process are as follows:


Engagement Objectives: Establishing links with other delivery partners and the community and running an „Ideas for Change‟ project at the outset of a local initiative. Informing: Exhibitions held in tents in parks – taking the information to the community. Consulting: Providing training for the public on Consultation software. Involving: Creating an ambassador for groups within the community. Supporting: Creating partnerships with external groups and organisations Devolving: Town and Parish Councils lead on community consultation in the LDF Integrating: Working with internal groups/ committees, such as the Council‟s Engagement Officer group Ongoing: The use of Council newsletters and Community magazines to feed back progress on consultation on an ongoing basis. 3.1.2 Engaging with Young People Not all respondents gave examples of community engagement work with young people, whilst others cited very ambitious practice examples of engaging with young people as being their flagship engagement activity/ programme. The most represented engagement category for Young People was in the „Consulting‟ category, with „Informing‟ and „Involving‟ being cited less frequently (but still more frequently than „Supporting‟ or Devolving‟). As a recognised hard to reach group, many Local Planning Authorities were making efforts to establish links with young people through Youth Groups and Councils prior to consultation taking place and were attempting to set up a continuing dialogue with those same groups after consultation, using Face book and website facilities to promote discussion and offer feedback. In one case, a local authority initiated a continuing outreach programme with an established youth project, after the planning LDF consultation process had finished. The concept of appointing an „Ambassador‟ to disseminate information to a group and to run internal consultation amongst young people was another initiative that reflected a „devolution‟ of power to the young person‟s community. The range of engagement activities cited as having been used at various levels includes: „Be a Planner for the day‟ workshop; a carnival held in a local school; events run by expert advisors including „Learning to See‟ project through CABE, model making and art projects run by local artists. External networks, such as a play space organisation, undertook their own engagement activity with the young people, with the results being used to inform the LDF process. Other young people orientated events comprised world cafés, mind mapping events and quizzes. Planning Aid had supported the Local Authorities in a small number of cases that were cited, but its work with young people was definitely an area where its expertise in engagement had been acknowledged as being of value. One response stated:


“Working in partnership with Yorkshire Planning Aid (YPA), we were able to target the „hard to reach‟ groups (young people, old people and ethnic minorities)” 3.1.3 Effectiveness of Techniques in Engagement with the general Community The analysis of the answers given for this part of the survey demonstrated the far-reaching effects that a Community Engagement can have and dispels the myth of it being purely a consultative process. The responses can be grouped as being effective in the following areas: Community  Good attendance numbers at engagement events  Good attendance from people who had not previously engaged in the LDF process  Good attendance at children‟s events  Increase in community knowledge of planning policy and planning issues  An ability in the community to shape planning policies  They could establish their own criteria for local needs for the Core Strategy, appropriate to the local area. Corporate  Within the Council there was a greater awareness  It allowed the development of methods of Community Engagement  A better officer understanding of the Community‟s views  The discovery that there could be pro-development groups/ individuals within the community Communication  Positive feedback from children‟s events  Useful feedback from children‟s events  Development of new networks with Hard to Reach groups


3.1.4 The Barriers to Effective Engagement with the wider Community The synthesis of information extracted from the LPA responses indicated that there were quite complex issues at play both in and around any community engagement exercise. The points listed below are not common to all Local Planning Authorities that responded. Some local authorities found the barriers to achieving effective engagement (as listed below) to be in existence. The comments are reported as the Authority‟s own „Perception‟ of the barriers to the community engagement processes. The barriers identified can be grouped as follows: Community  It was difficult to identify the Hard to Reach groups and to establish contact with them even when their presence was known to exist.  Information was sometimes not passed on within the school hierarchy.  Attendance of the community at events did not always mean that Engagement was taking place, especially if the attendance numbers were high, which could lead to practical difficulties in effective discussion  A poor level of audience knowledge of design and use of public spaces could restrict useful engagement  „Parochial‟ interest in or knowledge of what is „beyond the end of the street‟ can restrict the community‟s ability to engage in geographically wider issues.  Rural populations can be too dispersed to form working groups  Information is either too technical or controversial to achieve real consultation  There are too many views to achieve consensus Corporate  There is a fundamental community distrust of the Council





Aim of project

Raising awareness amongst young people of the emerging North Shields Area Action Plan and its Issues Paper (2007) with its four themes for consultation: North Shields a Place to Enjoy North Shields a Place to Live North Shields a Place to Shop North Shields a Place to Work Planning Aid North added a further theme to the Programme: a „Place with Identity‟ to help to develop a sense of place and uniqueness in the young people‟s assessment of their environment. To introduce concepts of planning, regeneration, urban design, architecture and Community Engagement. To encourage students to develop skills and a better understanding of career opportunities To highlight that areas change and AAPs can affect change To understand how to become more involved in the decision making process both now and in the future North Tyneside Planners stated that the community engagement exercise allowed the Council to make a connection with young people and that it was also a ‘door to the family’. They added that it was an opportunity to link in to a number of subjects on the school curriculum and that the project could only help in ‘softening the image of the planning profession’.

Image 1: Norham Community Technology College, North Shields (author‟s photograph) Image 2: North Shields Town centre (Google image)


Elements of project

The engagement programme was delivered to 30 Year 8 students (12 and 13 year olds) within timetabled geography classes in a series of 10 lessons. Planning Aid North delivered 7 of the lessons including an introductory session on the role of the Planner and how an area changes over time and sought views on how it should change in the future. The Programme ended with a presentation to Council officers, Council Members, Planning Aid North teachers and peer group members.

Skills used by Planners involved in the programme

Talking about planning and the Local Development Framework to the age group concerned Giving instructions on undertaking a simple audit of area Use of visual materials, including posters and post-its and plan work in advance. Delivering PowerPoint presentations. Share skills of analysing and synthesising gathered information and opinions Model making with the students Summarising the students work


Results included a list of ideas and locations targeted for priority action – see following page Regeneration timeline from past through to future ideas Presentation event It was reported by Planning Aid (2008) that the Planning Officer had stated at the presentation how young people had embraced positive change and that often this could be a barrier to regeneration. Young people had suggested redesigning the school as a „Community Hubâ€&#x; (training childcare and extra curricula activities) and as a meeting place for young people in North Tyneside. Apart from the wish to see the rebuilding of the school, students were generally happy with their environment and only wanted minor improvements to what was already there. Young people had enjoyed the project and relayed this to Planning Aid North after the programme.


Image 3: North Tyneside Councilâ€&#x;s seat of local government (authorâ€&#x;s photograph)

Text in bold indicates comments made at interview by North Tyneside Planners on their reflection of the Engagement process.


Review of projects by delivery parties, as interviewed in 2011

North Tyneside Planners added the following list of interpersonal skills to the list: patience; confidence; certain amount of fear/ apprehension (being a good thing); understanding the topic and the politics; not being patronising; using practical skills where possible to engage young people. In terms of what had been gained from the project, North Tyneside Planners stated that they were impressed how seriously the young people had taken the project and the opportunity to be engaged in the planning system. Their ideas were creative and were not so constrained by the barriers that control delivery, such as finance. They thought that the students considered it to be fun and enjoyed working with visitors in school. They added that the exercise did ‘tick the box’ as being a consultation exercise for the Draft AAP and it had proved to be good experience for the planning professionals involved in the process. At the end of the day, a judgement would have to be made as to how to use the ideas that the young people produced. However, the Planners thought that the young people were more aware of the planning system than before the programme had taken place. They compared it to another engagement exercise that had taken place elsewhere in North Tyneside where there had been some ‘quiet wins’ for the young people, in terms of improvements to green spaces, as part of an audit in which they had been involved. There was no similar type of immediate visual benefit for being engaged on the North Shields AAP project. The project gave the Planning officers an appreciation of the work that teachers do on subjects such as Geography, environmental education and Citizenship as well as learning the importance of what the young people think about changes for their area.

Extract from Planning Aid North Educational Information Sheet North Shields Area Action Plan and Norham College. 5.8.08 The key Issues identified by the young people included:

Photographs courtesy of Planning Aid North




Project Description

Horsley Hill Estate is one of 6 neighbourhoods in the Borough which piloted a neighbourhood action planning approach, through Participatory Appraisal (PA) Participatory appraisal is a community-based approach to consultation that gives priority to the views and attitudes of local people, recognising them as the experts within their own communities. It has been used extensively in the southern hemisphere and particularly in rural parts of developing countries. In December 2005, councillors, stakeholders and partners signed up for the HH Neighbourhood Action Plan. First report is Horsley Hill „Wakes Up‟. 20th November 2009, „Future‟ Steps event for people to sign up to demonstrate commitment to project. Second report is called „Refresh‟

Local Context

Horsley Hill Estate is located within the boundary of South Tyneside Council, lying 2 miles south of South Shields. The „Leas‟ and seafront bound the estate to the east and Horsley Hill square to the west. It is an area of 1950s Local Authority housing and mostly remains in Council ownership (71.3% South Tyneside Council Neighbourhood Action Plan 2006) The area suffers some of the highest concentration of deprivation in the country, where in 2004, the Super Output area that covers 90% of the estate was in the most deprived 2% in England. The estate has a predominantly young population, with 30% of residents being no more than 15 years old.



Partners in the project included South Tyneside Council, South Tyneside Homes, Horsley Hill Residents Association, the Youth Service, the Primary Health Care Trust, Neighbourhood Services, Community Development Worker, the Detached Youth Project, the internal Engagement Officer team, private landlords, the Police and the Community of Horsley Hill. The project was delivered under South Tyneside‟s Transformation Partnership through the Council‟s Area coordination team, Streetscape, PEANuT (Participatory Engagement Appraisal Northumbria University), the Community Empowerment Network and facilitators from Groupworks. The project saw the establishment of Horsley Hill Community Partnership and implementation of the project began in 2005. Local MP at the time, David Milliband, gave considerable support and a prestigious profile to the project. Funding was given through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

Links with other Strategies

Aim of project

Sustainable Communities Agenda (ODPM Creating Sustainable Communities, 2005) The delivery involved the creation of the Neighbourhood Action Plan (NAP) Firm foundations: the Government‟s framework for capacity building (2004) Citizen engagement in public services: why neighbourhoods matter (2005). Local Area Agreement through the Local Strategic Partnership The overall aim to improve the quality of life for residents of Horsley Hill. This would involve achieving some regeneration of Horsley Hill square itself, but essentially, the Neighbourhood Action Plan created a number of visions based on the themes that the residents themselves identified and each was developed to have a solutions focus. The 7 themes were: Children and Young People; Engaging with the Community; Housing and the Environment; Improving Health; Making People Safe; Public Transport; and Employment Learning and Advice.


Elements of project

The project involved some 1300 voluntary hours, with volunteers speaking to over 600 people and collating 1400 responses. An interview with South Tyneside staff suggests that preplanning was essential for the project to begin. Participatory Appraisal is a means of collecting data to identify needs and plan strategies and plan programmes. It enables people to contribute information about their local area and the community‟s needs in a non-threatening manner. It allows residents to be experts within their own community and to create solution based frame that motivates local residents to think about how they would like the area to be. South Tyneside Resource for Initiating Development of the Economy (STRIDE) is the community empowerment network in the area. It leads community regeneration programmes, especially where the voluntary and community sector is engaged in social and economic issues. STRIDE was instrumental in: -

ensuring the voluntary and community sectors‟ involvement in the participatory appraisals pilots


co-writing a joint bid with the council to the local strategic partnership (LSP) for Neighbourhood Regeneration Fund


engaging the Participatory Appraisal engagement method from Participatory Evaluation and Appraisal in Newcastle upon Tyne project ('PEANuT') from Northumbria University to support capacity building in Horsley Hill estate.

The project‟s Steering Group was made up from STRIDE, PEANuT and Councils‟ Area coordination team. Stages of Participatory Appraisal involves the following: Preparation (identifying the key people); Training those people; phase1 street work – training; clustering information into themes; training and street work planning; street work (solutions collection); training and planning for stakeholder events; stakeholder events; pre action planning training; action planning meetings; neighbourhood action planning.


Skills used

Training of locals in skills to create a sustainable community The use of creative and visual tools with which people can engage. For instance, map work with young people was particularly effective. The use of maps with young people in the places where they congregated (especially in the Square and on street corners) allowed the street workers to identify where antisocial behaviour was concentrated and it could then be tackled, using appropriate staff and resources. Use of H form diagram, Spider diagram and graffiti wall. Local people also used these skills after they had received training from the facilitators. The findings from the Participatory Appraisal were triangulated by other parties/ organisations before any intervening action was taken. The project’s DVD interviewed local people about the early stages and residents say that there was a change from ‘I don’t know’ to ‘We can change’. A resident stated that at first, young people identified ‘no likes’ for their area. They had grown in confidence; they could achieve the ‘impossible dream’; they wanted ‘action not words’. Through the P.A. process, 700 people on the estate were interviewed, either by project staff or by residents trained by staff. There were 30 street work engagement sessions and focus groups led by local people Neighbourhood Action Plan (NAP) 2007, which identified the following aims for the Children and Young People theme through the P.A. interviews:        

Develop sports and art based activities Develop a project for hard to reach young people Somewhere to go for range of advice and information for young people Safe place for children to play More use of school facilities Young People to have a say and influence what happens in the area More youth workers and female workers After school activities for 5 – 11 year olds


Outcome continued


Future steps Event, November 2009, encouraged residents to sign up to commit to more improvements in the area. Refresh Neighbourhood Action Plan 2010, identified the four theme groups that meet regularly and updated residents on the progress that had been achieved. It updated the NAP for the estate. The Horsley Hill Newsletter has kept people regularly updated on progress in the estate and on how each of the themes is making real achievements.


Implementing „quick wins‟ is important for maintaining resident enthusiasm.


It is essential to keep local councillors informed and to gain their active support.


Staff and residents have taught skills to others in South Tyneside neighbourhoods, as well as taking their skills to London in an extended skills programme.


Further training for 12 local residents has been delivered against the national standards for community development.


The success of the project and the engagement methods used has gone on to valuable work on the extended schools programme, the residents‟ and tenants „association and to train other community groups

Images: 5 and 6, Horsley Hill Community Campus – outcome of NAP 7, Horsley Hill Square – the centre of neighbourhood shopping activity. (5,6,7 Author‟s photographs).


Outcome continued

There was a joint approach to evaluating the success of the Participatory Appraisal process, comprising: -

An evaluation by Northumbria University.


STRIDE providing support by putting articles in its newsletter and actively publicising community involvement at Community Empowerment Network (CEN) forums

The project has significantly contributed to public service agreement (PSA) targets. Examples include: -Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) PSA 1 for tackling social exclusion and delivering neighbourhood renewal - Home Office PSA 6 for increasing voluntary and community engagement, especially among those at risk of social exclusion

To ensure the work was properly evaluated a baseline survey was commissioned from an independent agency. This will be followed up within three years to assess how sustained change has been achieved. It will also feed into the council‟s priority Local Area Agreement (LAA) indicators. PEANuT has also commissioned its own evaluation of the project. A number of „quick wins‟ has helped to maintain residents‟ enthusiasm and helped manage expectations and retain people‟s trust in the project. These quick wins include: -

Replacing brown metal shutters on empty properties with clear perspex screens which help to prevent a neglected look and make empty properties less conspicuous.


Clearing empty properties using Groundwork South Tyneside and using the workforce of local unemployed people.


Removing wheelie bins from empty properties.


A Community Worker was appointed for the estate who was instrumental in doing a lot of groundwork with the community and establishing contacts within the community. A pedestrian crossing was constructed to assist young people to move safely form the estate to the Leas open space.


On the theme of Children and Young people, the following were achieved: -

A new Horsley Hill Community Campus, including new primary school, children‟s centre and school for disabled children A children and young people themed group meet regularly. Detached youth work group began on the estate. There are many other interventions and projects proposed that are specifically targeted at young people, which has also included funding through Central government‟s „Cleaner Greener, Safer Fund‟.

There were many other improvements in the other themes, including the use of an empty residential property within the estate property as a Project Base at 1 Amble Avenue.


Review of projects by delivery parties, as interviewed in 2011

An interview with staff from PEANuT has indicated that ultimately the success of the project will be reflected in how soon the professionals will be able to remove themselves from the project and allow the community to carry on without them, as has happened in Horsley Hill Estate.

They admitted that there had been initial doubt as to whether the residents would maintain their interest in the project for such a long time.

Image 8: The BSF programme underway at Harton School, adjacent to Horsley Hill. Image 9: South Shields Town Hall – the seat of local government


4.1 COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT – AN ANALYSIS OF THE TWO CASE STUDIES The purpose of this research project is to identify the skills required by town planners to engage effectively with Young People in the community. To be able to get to the point of identifying specific skills, it has been necessary to map some of the community engagement techniques that have been used in the Northern Region, concentrating on examples from consultation on the Local Development Framework. To learn in even greater clarity what planners might need to be able to do to engage with Young People, the two above case studies in North and South Shields have been examined in more detail, beyond the techniques used. It is accepted that the two case studies comprise contrasting project objectives and financial and delivery contexts, but in taking an example from outside mainstream town planning some valuable reflection on planning practice can be gained. It is not the purpose of this analysis to compare the two community engagement techniques directly (although there are clear distinctions and learning points that can be made). However, the skills required for community engagement cannot exist without the framework of an engagement technique in which to embed them. To analyse the two projects in a logical manner, the structure devised in the previous section will be used as a means to assess their relative features. The structure that the analysis will follow is shown below. 1 2 A B C D E 3 4

Establishing Engagement objectives Delivery techniques: Informing Consulting Involving Supporting Devolving Integrating with other services Ongoing Engagement


1. Establishing Engagement Objectives The Norham College project rose out of a specific request to Planning Aid to lead a consultation programme with local young people on the draft North Shields Town Centre AAP. The themes of the AAP had already been established, although they were adjusted slightly by Planning Aid North staff to include an additional criterion from which to create some imaginative responses. There was no room within the scope of the commission from North Tyneside Council to change the breadth or depth of the engagement objectives. Although schools do offer a mostly ideal opportunity in which to make connections with young people, the nature of the curriculum and school diary/ timetable is such that the programme of events is required to be very focussed, structured and time bound. Due to this, a fixed programme of strict timetabled sessions is the best that can be achieved in working with most secondary schools. The Draft North shields AAP had come to a point in its development that it required the consultation to take place and that window of time had to be optimised. The Horsley Hill project was one of 6 neighbourhood partnership projects in South Tyneside to be selected for improvements in pursuit of the Sustainable Communities agenda and for the improvement of the quality of life of their residents. Strong delivery partnerships had been established at the outset both with stakeholders outside the council and also with other directives within the Council. A significant funding source had been identified through the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. However, apart from the Council knowing that improvements were desired, there was no preconception of what those improvements should be, nor even a list of priorities or aims. The decision to adopt the Participatory Appraisal (PA) engagement method in Horsley Hill meant that the solutions would be found amongst the local residents. Following the initial series of PAs with the local community and a „clustering‟ of the results, the Neighbourhood Action Plan was then drawn up to identify the main themes that had emerged from the community and which would then be taken forward to create actions. Skills required for Community Engagement with young people at this stage If the town planner is to enter into a community engagement exercise with a set of predetermined objectives and priorities, then some „soft sales‟ techniques will be required, together with a good understanding and a simple explanation (and possible defending) of the planning process. It will be necessary to explain the limitations of the engagement exercise and prepare for limited outcomes being generated. However, an ability to coordinate a carefully planned programme of pre- engagement partnership with other interest groups and stakeholders (both within and without the Council) and to develop a broader vision, rather than specific objectives, could pave the way for greater community buy-in as the engagement programme progresses. It is


acknowledged that decisions of this strategic nature with regards to organisation and funding are not normally open to debate once the decision to proceed with a DPD has been made, but it is worth considering how much ground work with other organisations and the community could be done prior to the formal timetable commencing for the Local Development Framework. Initial work with the local Youth Council and Youth Group may lead to more constructive engagement when an AAP has to be drafted and consulted upon. 2. Delivery Techniques A. Informing Informing in community engagement can take place throughout the whole process. Sometimes, however, the transfer of information may form the only part of a community engagement programme. Informing the community of what the Local development Framework is and how they can get more involved is a critical stage and the whole process can rise or fall on how well the message about what is happening is disseminated to the community. In Horsley Hill estate, informing the community was more related to the decision that a community engagement exercise was going to take place and that there was a vision to create a sustainable community in the estate. Throughout the programme of events information continued to flow through different channels, such as the Community Development worker and the partnership organisations, as well as the local ward councillor, to the wider community. Three years on into the programme, a newsletter was circulated within the community to celebrate the successes of the project and to invite them to a re-commitment event. Information was disseminated to members of the community, who were trained as PA workers, so that a comprehensive network of informed people were working within the community on a continuous basis. There was never a sense of the information being a „tool of power‟, but it was very much regarded as needing to be shared to keep the community on board. Another key feature of looking at the „Informing‟ aspect of the work in Horsley hill was that the project‟s success was dependent on information transferring from the community to the project staff. This required particular skills and training. At Norham College, the „Informing‟ aspect of the community engagement project was evident in the need to explain the planning system and what the draft AAP was seeking in terms of response. The Planning system does require explanation and offering this insight to school children could ensure that a greater longer term understanding of the planning process may lead to a willingness in later life to become more engaged in issues that affect their neighbourhoods. The end of the programme involved a presentation


to school and Planning staff, as well as other students and council members. Informing other members of the community in this manner can help to build bridges for future partnership working as well as dispelling myths and damaging reputations of other community groups and individuals. Skills required for Community Engagement with young people at this stage Very similar skills are required of planners as in 1. Above, in terms of the ability to explain the planning process and keep the audience interested. It could be argued that delivering information to young people is a skill that requires specialist training, but learning to deliver information in any visual, verbal or written form with the aim of stimulating interest, or even „selling‟ the product is a worthwhile skill to have. Working with young people does especially raise the opportunity of working with electronic and internet based forms of information dissemination, which again, could easily form part of the planner‟s portfolio of skills and is probably more likely to be already in existence amongst younger planners entering the workforce. Continuing to inform the community was a feature of the Horsley Hill project, where there appeared to be an assumption that there „could never be too much information‟, even after the key elements of the project had been delivered on the ground. The project also featured the residents sharing their knowledge and skills with others both within the Borough and also in London in an extended skills programme. B. Consulting The Norham College project was essentially a consultation exercise on a pre- determined set of themes considered to be important for North Shields‟ town centre. The engagement methods comprised a range of analytical, creative tools and presentational skills that were taught and shared between Planning Aid North staff, teachers and students. This had the effect of appearing to create a fun and „engaging‟ consultation process for the young people. The process in itself was the key concern. In Horsley Hill, consultation only really took place once other stages in the engagement process had been fulfilled (see Involving and Supporting below). When consultation did take place all parties concerned had a much better knowledge base of everyone else in the project. Themes for regular discussion and development in the Neighbourhood Action Plan (NAP)had been established with the community, so that the creative thinking and consultation part of the action plan could evolve more naturally from the consensus that had already been established. Consultation was still an important stage at Horsley Hill, but there was less at risk because there were no surprises contained within the NAP.


Skills required for Community Engagement with young people at this stage If planners are to engage successfully with young people, then sharing skills that make learning and engagement „fun‟ is important. Teachers have tried and tested methods of developing students‟ understanding and analysis of new information, but this does not mean that town planners as built environment professionals should not be able to bring their own „trade skills‟ to the classroom successfully. This does beg the question as to what these „trade skills‟ might be that can allow young people to have fun and learn at the same time. Such skills might have to be developed from other built environment professionals, such as architects, and the type of resources that are available through CABE. Planning Aid was particularly strong in developing sets of skills that could be used by its staff and through training, by volunteers, in community engagement events/ programmes. These skills might include audit skills outside the classroom (as at Norham college), or imaginative methods of analysing and representing that information. Other interpersonal skills remain important in working with young people in consultation, including making sure that expectations are not unrealistically raised, gaining trust and confidence among young people, feeding back with responses and where at all possible establishing some level of „quick win‟, which will assist in maintaining faith in the consultation process and the planning profession generally. This might be as simple as arranging for the group to visit an idea that they are proposing elsewhere, to help to inform their opinions. In consultation, there are bound to be differences of opinion and this may require expert management to enable those differences to be respected and from which to move forward, or to concentrate on the common grounds that connect the community. C. Involving In Horsley Hill, the aim of the area initiative was to involve the community from the outset and to build community capacity for future engagement. The Community Development Worker identified groups and individuals with which to liaise in advance of the community engagement element of the project appeared on the programme. These groups and individuals (as well as other delivery partners and Council groups) were kept involved throughout the project‟s life. „Involving‟ (PAS 2010) in an engagement sense means that the Community takes a share in contributing ideas and shaping priorities. In Horsley Hill estate the community became truly involved. Through Participatory Appraisal (PA) engagement technique, the community‟s issues were identified. These were coded and analysed and then triangulated with other organisations for validity. The responses fell into 12 main themes and then further modified to create seven workable topics. Four of these seven shortlisted topics had designated action groups that


have continued to meet regularly over the project‟s lifespan. The building of the Community Hub within the estate has enabled there to be a physical base for continuing involvement as well as nurturing a sense of „belonging and pride‟ in the community. The Norham College Case Study did not engaged with its young people at the „Involving‟ level. The school had a limited timescale in which the project could run and students have not continued to have any further input into the AAP. The school programme started on the basis of a pre determined set of prioritise or themes and apart from some adjustment through Planning aid North for the purposes of the school project itself, did not lend itself to adjustment according to what the young people were recommending. The North Shields Town Centre AAP is currently „on hold‟ by North Tyneside until further progress has been made on the draft Core Strategy. Perhaps when the consultation exercise is re-introduced a different approach of engaging with the young people will be adopted. There is scope through regular input of the Youth Forums and the presence of the Young Mayor on the Council Cabinet to put some of these „Involving‟ measures in place. There has been no continuation of the students‟ input into the AAP within the school, as energies have shifted focus onto other environmental projects. One of the ideas to emerge from the work with students at Norham College was their wish to see the school become more of a Community Hub, with facilities being extended and made available to people in the local area. Perhaps this reflects the young people‟s wish to establish a strong presence within the heart of the community life and from where they would have a base and identity to be more proactive in future community engagement initiatives. Skills required for Community Engagement with young People at this stage Skills required by town planners in the „Involving‟ stage are varied in nature. Using a data collection technique in a non-threatening/ non- preset-agenda manner, such as the Participatory Appraisal or spider diagram, will ensure that a more complete picture of the community and its needs are gathered. Other skills may also include maintaining a watching brief or acting as a channel for the transfer of information, once groups/ networks and partnerships have been established. If there is training to deliver or organise for those groups, then this will require communication and negotiation skills. When groups have contributions to make to the engagement process, then it will be important to reassure those interests that the information, ideas and priorities will be carefully considered and disseminated to other parties and ultimately into the LDF. Some degree of being able to stand back and to relinquish any influence over ideas and priority shaping would also be a key skill which would allow this level of Community Engagement to proceed successfully.


D. Supporting The Norham College project has allowed young people to be consulted within the LDF process, but only within the confines of the school timetable and loosely within the curriculum boundaries. There is very limited capacity for these Young People to be engaged in a way that planning officers only supports them. Community Planning Youth forums and the School Council allow individuals or groups to participate within the wider decision making process, but without direct support from the planning authority, this role would only likely to be reactive. There is a significant gap between being led through a consultation stage in a classroom environment and being in a supported engagement role, where decisions could be made outside of the planning process, but with some guidance and direction would contribute to it. In Horsley Hill estate, Council staff very much acted in a supporting role to the community‟s own decision making process. Training community members was a key element to allowing residents to do their own decision making and planning for themselves and they were able to speak the same „engagement language‟ as the staff organising the project through the use of simple techniques such as Participatory Appraisal and Mind Maps. Skills required for Community Engagement with Young People at this stage The likelihood of this level of engagement being able to take place really lies outside the issue of whether or not planners have suitable skills or not to implement it. The overall project design needs to have built in „satellite‟ groups and networks of young people that the planner can then support and help to feed their output into the LDF process. North Tyneside has a strong network of youth representatives at different decision making levels within the local authority, but there does not appear to be the facility for them to draw on planning expertise as and when required to help them take a more proactive role in influencing planning decision making. One of the disadvantages of today‟s society which rightly aims to protect young people in the community, is that it is extremely difficult, without proceeding through torturous routes and checks and raising suspicion in the process, to be able to connect with this section of the community. Skills such as being able to be visionary and persistent would be useful amongst planners if they really want to support Young People to have a continued voice in the planning process. These do require a level of support by senior staff and the Local Authority as a whole and are not necessarily down to the individual planner to initiate.


E. Devolving Devolving community engagement to the community has taken place in Horsley Hill. This has come about due to the training received by community members. Combined with the desire from the organisers to take a step back from being involved in every aspect of the project has allowed the community to grow in confidence of their own abilities. Through PA the community have learnt that they are respected as having the expert knowledge of the area and are trusted to know what actions need to be addressed within the community-agreed themes. Looking at the Norham College Case study, there is no devolution of community engagement to the young people. Because of the very nature of the age of the group, it would seem as though someone always has to retain overall control of their actions, whether it be the teachers or the planning officers involved in the consultation exercise. It is hard to imagine a situation where full devolution could be handed over to a young peopleâ€&#x;s group. An organisation such as Planning Aid could still continue to remotely support a young personâ€&#x;s group, but this is not a viable solution since the demise of Planning Aid at a regional level. Having the opportunity to be able to engage in planning through either the school or a youth Council etc, could be a two edged sword, which serves the purpose of the planning authority, but perhaps does not give young people the freedom to be able to pursue their own agenda. Skills required for Community Engagement with Young People at this stage The devolution of planning knowledge to ambassadors within the school or within the young peoplesâ€&#x; community would be one way to ensure that some young people can serve as Ambassadors within their own community group, thereby removing the continuing need to be in direct and continuous contact with the planning process.


3. Integrating In South Tyneside the initiative to bring improvements to Horsley Hill estate (along with 5 other locations) was a local authority initiative, with buy in from many departments, but run through the Neighbourhood Services. This holistic approach has meant that the solutions cut across departments and make much more sense to the community, when the issues that they experience do not have convenient labels attached to advise them which Directorate or department they need to contact. Also, because the solutions evolved from the communityâ€&#x;s own issues, then this motivates community engagement in the project. Separating planning issues from other environmental problems and opportunities does not make sense to many outside of the planning profession. As many Local Authorities have a Childrenâ€&#x;s/ Young Peopleâ€&#x;s Directorate and a Youth Council/Assembly (through which young people be represented and their interests protected) then an integrated approach to delivering Development Plan Documents may stand more chance of connecting with Young People at an earlier stage in the proceedings. Norham College project was presented as a one-off, specialist-planning and time-bounded exercise which has had limited impact. It is unlikely that the young people involved in the exercise will retain much in the way of emotional attachment to the exercise and apart from some good memories of doing something different in their geography lessons, may not enjoy the full young citizentraining benefits of an effective community engagement exercise. Skills required for Community Engagement with young People at this stage The skill to promote the concept of community engagement with young people (as well as other community groups) needs to be exercised at a senior level within the planning profession. Cross- Directorate groups and LSPs (now LEPs) could integrate the need for engagement on planning issues into other service delivery, bringing it to established community groups and networks. This could prove to be more cost effective and more efficient in connecting with community groups over a sustained time period, as well as making more sense to the community itself. Some Local Authorities have employed Engagement Officers or teams (as South Tyneside has), who have successfully coordinated this type of integrated engagement.


4. Ongoing The two case studies sharply contrast in the nature of the length of community engagement. Horsley Hill estate has seen the establishment of a self-supporting engagement practice through PA and its associated training, which long after the funding for the overall project has expired, will continue to ensure that the community still has a voice within local governance. The use of community newsletters, events and regular meeting of the theme groups also gives longevity of community engagement, not often found in LDF engagement exercises. In contrast, the Norham College project stopped once the final presentations were made. Even teachers at the school and pupils find it hard to recall the project itself, only 3 and a half years after it was run. Any future attempts to include Young people within a LDF consultation will need to start from the very beginning again. Perhaps there is a missed opportunity to train teachers as Ambassadors for a particular Development Plan Document or LDF, whereby they can continue to keep its profile alive in the school in between bouts of consultation through the local Planning Authority? Skills required for Community Engagement with Young People at this stage Again, the skills required for this level of community engagement may need to be nurtured by more senior staff, where they can influence cross- Directorate flow of information and that which is sent out from the LPA to the community. Being aware that the community should be kept informed of progress is also important. Resources such as websites, Facebook, email and electronic newsletters are a cost-effective method of keeping a project in the public eye and offering a continuing method of engagement. These are skills that are accessible to planners, but further training in them would give more confidence in their use. The success of Horsley Hillâ€&#x;s engagement project has been recognised within South Tyneside Council and the skills that local residents learnt as part of that process have been shared with other neighbourhoods in the Borough, thereby maximising the investment of time and resources that was in the initial project by bringing about change on a broader basis.


4.2 OVERALL CONCLUSIONS FROM THE CASE STUDIES The research into the two Case Studies in North and South Shields has been invaluable in broadening out the context in which community engagement operates. It has demonstrated that within a project, there may be different levels of community engagement and that each has a key role to play. It is also evident that each of those engagement types may require different skills from the planner and that engagement is not purely the meeting of community and town planner. There are many factors that affect how effective an engagement activity actually is. These factors include fundamental organisational approaches by the Local Authority and whether or not the community engagement has been undertaken as a Local Authority cross – directorate information- seeking exercise, or a specific tick-box consultation exercise. Both might achieve what the Local Authority intended them to achieve, in terms of numbers of people through the door or variety/ number of responses. The analysis of the responses from Northern Regionâ€&#x;s Local Authorities in Section 3 of this report has demonstrated that effectiveness of Community Engagement can actually be measured in a vast range of ways and from a number of different angles. One of the most powerful elements of the Horsley Hill case study was the lasting effect that the work on Participatory appraisal can achieve through the sharing of skills from practitioner to community and then from community to others. This would appear to be a vital requirement in the search for effective engagement with hard to reach groups, especially in a resource- deprived era. The devolution of community engagement responsibilities through the sharing of skills within the community, through training programmes, can also serve to bring that community together over a period of time. In Horsley Hill estate the use of the Participatory Appraisal system has empowered members of the community to work within the estate, bringing local information and issues effectively to the project delivery team. This is a clear advantage of the Participatory Appraisal (Involving) method over the more commonly used Consultation methods adopted by Local Planning Authorities within their LDF process. Many of the skills are not new or specialist to planning, but working in community engagement will mean that it is necessary to know when to seek strategic level decisions, what effective techniques to use and how and when to involve specialist experts from outside planning.


4.3 SKILLS REQUIRED FOR ENGAGING YOUNG PEOPLE This is the particular focus of this study, although it has been necessary to look at broader community engagement skills for town planners first through current practice in the northern region in Section 3 and through the use of Case Studies where Young People were engaged, which is the subject of this section. Norham College and Horsley Hill projects both involved the engagement of Young People. In Norham College the location of the engagement exercise was chosen due to its access to young people - the primary aim of the project being to connect with that element of the hard to reach community. Connecting with the hard to reach has been the particular strength of Planning Aid Community engagement programme in recent years. In Horsley Hill estate, the programme planned to make contact with the strong representation of young people in the neighbourhood through the „whole community‟ approach. Contact was established with young people through existing Youth group networks, through street workers in the PA delivery o street corners and places where young people gathered (such as bus shelters) and through the continued presence of Community Development workers and the Children and Young People theme group. Knowing more about how young people use their environment and gaining their trust in the first place, outside of the formal school community, might be one of the key factors in establishing a longer-term project legacy, as has been the case in Horsley Hill. It has been interesting that in both case study projects, young people attached significance to having a place of their own where they could meet and feel as a community. At Norham College, this need emerged from some of the activities. Young people suggested that their school could be used as a „Community Hub‟, with facilities offered outside of school hours to all groups within the community, including the very young and the elderly. At Horsley Hill, consultation identified the need for a place for the community to share in activities and funding was secured for the Horsley Hill Community Campus, which also served as a replacement location for Seaview and Bamburgh schools. Further research into the value of a „Place‟ for young people would also inform the question of how best to connect with them for a range engagement projects.


Summary of Skills for Engaging with Young People using the Case Studies Norham Community Technology College Prepare a pre-planned programme for delivery Convey information about the planning process in a straight forward manner Establish what can/ cannot be achieved through the programme Share skills of undertaking a neighbourhood audit Analyse and use the information received from Young People Share a creative skill such as model making Lead fun activities Summarise students‟ work Horsley Hill Estate Prepare a pre-planned programme for delivery Establish links with youth groups Promise that you will do something, but establish limitations to project Share engagement techniques with the community, e.g. Participatory Appraisal, neighbourhood mapping, spider diagrams, H form diagrams and graffiti walls Identify „Quick wins‟ Respect young peoples‟ differences Look for similarities/ connections between young people Use E technology and information sharing Devolve knowledge and skills to young people and their workers Stand back and allow young people to do their work Keep Young People informed of project progress




The review of literature, research and policy in Section 2 allowed an investigation into recent and current thinking on Community Engagement. It was able to identify a number of skills that are considered to be valuable to those undertaking community engagement within the Local Development Framework. These skills are mostly generic, to be used for engagement with the community as a whole, rather than specifically for engagement with young people. The study of effective community engagement amongst Local Planning Authorities in the Northern Region was able to reveal what planning practitioners considered to be the key skills that they required to engage effectively with the community in the practice examples that they cited. The purpose of this study was firstly to establish some good practice examples of community engagement. The questionnaire request for examples of community engagement was not limited to only those that involved young people (although many of them did), as it was important to establish some broader based experience and skills in the more general sense of community engagement relating to the Local Development Framework process. Using the two Case Studies of engagement with young people in North and South Tyneside (Section 4), a closer examination was possible of those community engagement skills that were used to work with young people. The first Case Study project, in North Tyneside, was a project managed by Planning Aid North and worked with local school students, in the 12-13 years age group. The Second Case Study was an investigation of an innovative policy and participatory approach in South Tyneside, where young people were the target of community engagement within a wider neighbourhood regeneration project. Both projects were able to reveal good practice in terms of techniques used for community engagement, but by interviewing the facilitators, it was possible to uncover some of the specific skills used for engagement with young people. At the same time, interviews were held with a number of Planning Aid staff. Three Planning Aid Officers and one former employee of Planning Aid, from three different Regional Offices gave their time to talk about the skills needed by town planners for engaging with young people.


Taking some of the skills identified through the Local Planning Authority survey, some from Planning Aid staff interviews and other skills that emerged from research into the two Case Studies, a list of 10 skills for effective engagement with young people was compiled and developed into a short, sharp, questionnaire that could be used within interviews held with a variety of project participants. Respondents were asked how important they considered these skills to be for Town Planners in engagement work with young people.


‘Engagement Skills for Town Planners’ Questionnaire

Skill Question 1.Ability to understand the current issues in the local area. 2. To listen to young people and to take an interest in the issues that are important to them. 3. Ability to describe how the planning system works in the words that young people understand 4. An ability to „forget about planning‟ and the planning process. 5. An ability to lead a discussion.

Source of skill Value of question question Planning Aid staff, Some think that it is not important to demonstrate local knowledge with any Case Studies preconceptions of issues that it might bring and that without it, it offers an opportunity for young people to share knowledge about their locality. Others regard local knowledge as being essential to demonstrate interest. Planning Aid staff This was often cited as being an essential skill for engaging with young people. The questionnaire could test if planners thought the same as young people or teachers on this.

Planning Aid staff and Case Studies

To engage in the planning process, many LPA respondents thought that it was essential for the group to have some knowledge of the process. However, how well planners could communicate this in simple terms was the subject of differing views.

Planning Aid staff and inspired by literature review

It was suggested that the planning process could be an obstacle to true community involvement, so this question would test various parties‟ reaction to how the planning process (and to some extent, the planning profession) is perceived. This was more of a leadership skill that might be useful to allow all members within a group of young people to feel that their contribution is valued.



6. To „manage‟ more vocal members of the group 7.To lead fun activities to allow young people to learn 8. To share creative skills to generate discussion and learning 9. To develop a sense of trust with the young people 10. To give useful feedback to young people during and after the project

Case Studies, Planning Aid staff, LPA good practice survey. Literature, LPA good practice survey, Planning Aid Literature, Case Studies

Any group can have its more vocal members, but some might think that this is a healthy sign of successful engagement, whilst others believe that it can „put off‟ quieter members from contributing.

Planning Aid, Case Studies

This was a commonly made statement, but would young people agree that it would be important too?

LPA good practice survey, Case Studies

This is seen as being necessary for longer-term capacity building, but would young people and other participants agree?

Fun activities are regarded many parties as being essential to engage with young people, but would young people think the same way?

Inspired by thinking about what planners as professional have to offer in the actual creative skills that they can share.


5.2 THE RESULTS The quick questionnaire was answered by a total of 37 individuals:  6 community engagement officers/ practitioners that had worked with young people on the case studies  4 teachers who have worked with engagement projects with external practitioners  18 young people, between the ages of 12 and 18, from the locations where the case studies took place, but had not specifically engaged in the projects themselves  9 „Year Out‟ planning students from Newcastle University, some of which had been involved in Community Engagement exercises during their placements. Chart 1. North and South Tyneside Case Study Community Engagement Officers/ Practitioners


Chart 2 Teachers that have worked on engagement projects with external community engagement practitioners

Chart 3 Young People (ages 12 –18) from the locations in which the projects took place (i.e. the same school in North Tyneside and a school in the same neighbourhood of South Tyneside)


Chart 4 Year Out students on their Placement Year from Newcastle University

5.3 KEY FINDINGS Although this was a limited sample and the survey‟s findings could not be used as a general indicator of that sector of the community, the results do show some interesting variations in the perception of community engagement activities and, may also reflect the wider held image of the planning profession and town planning generally. Chart 1 – The four skills that were regarded by the Case Study Practitioners as being „definitely important‟ for Town Planners to have for engagement were „leading fun activities‟, followed by „listen to young people‟, „ability to lead a discussion‟ and giving „useful feedback‟. The skill with the highest „probably important‟ response was to „forget about planning‟, and the highest „probably not important‟ given to understanding „current local issues‟. Chart 2 – The „definitely important‟ skills for Town Planners that were identified by four out of five Teachers were „to listen‟, „share creative skills‟ and „develop a sense of trust‟. Three out of five respondents said that „current local issues‟, „describing how the


planning system works‟ and „useful feedback‟ were also „definitely important‟. There was a mixed response to „the ability to forget about planning‟. Chart 3 – The skill that Young People most frequently scored as „definitely important‟ for Town Planners to have was the „ability to listen‟ (eleven out of fourteen young people). They gave more „probably important‟ scores to „describing how the planning system works‟, „lead a discussion‟ and to „manage more vocal members‟. A combined total of eight out of the fourteen young people responded that the „ability to forget about planning‟ was either „definitely not important‟ or „probably not important‟, whilst nine out of fourteen respondents thought that this was „probably important‟. Further analysis might reveal how this breaks down by different ages within the „Young People‟ category. Chart 4 – Year Out Students gave the highest „definitely important‟ response for Town Planners skills to the „ability to describe how the planning system works‟, followed by understanding the „current local issues‟ and the ability to lead „fun activities‟. There was a mixed response to „the ability to forget about planning‟; with one respondent admitting that they „did not know‟.

5.4 OVERALL ANALYSIS Whilst these results are only a small sample of different interest groups, they do give a broad triangulation of some of the key skill areas that planners potentially need to consider in engaging young people in the planning system. Because there was an absence of any outright rejection of any of the skills listed (except in the discussion outlined below), then this could be interpreted as an acceptance of the skills listed as being appropriate for town planners to have, to some degree or another. The survey does not identify a comprehensive range of possible skills; additional comments received from some respondents have helped to bridge this gap. These additional comments are discussed in the Conclusions. The most noticeable variation in the whole of the results was the clear „definitely not important‟ and „probably not important‟ value that the Young People gave to the ability to „forget about planning‟. This would suggest that some young people do really want to hear about town planning and the town planning process and that community engagement does not have to be a more „neutral‟ engagement exercise where the term town planning is regarded as „the unmentionable phrase‟.


How people responded to the skills question (given the response category choices in the survey) did not leave enough differentiation of views as to the skill‟s significance, or not. It could also be suggested that more Young People might have held back from giving a „definitely important‟ value to a skill, as giving an absolute affirmation to something may not be a particular trait of this age group. However, if we consider the skills where there is a high „definitely important‟ combined with a high „probably important‟, together with an absence of any negative responses, then the three prominent skills that young people consider are important for town planners to have for engagement with their age group are: an understanding of „current local issues‟; an ability to „listen‟ and; an ability to „describe how the planning system works‟. If we base our future community engagement practice with young people on these skills, then we will be making a reasonable start. Further research would be beneficial in this area and should include a breakdown of responses by age within the „Young People‟ group.


SECTION 6.0 CONCLUSIONS Using the feedback from discussions from various contributors to the research process, the main conclusions to the report can be grouped into a number of themes.

6.1 THEME A: Areas where Town Planners need to improve skills or use particular techniques. Youth Worker A, from the Children‟s Society „SCARPA‟ Project in Newcastle, engages on a day-to-day basis with young people who have many varied and interconnected problems. She finds that although the young people she deals with are often „running away from something‟, that they do want to be contacted. She stresses how important it is to build the relationship first with the young person and to develop a level of trust with them. Maintaining that level of contact was also important to her work and where this was not done through either herself or co-workers, young people were trained as Mentors to provide ongoing support. She found that the young people created their own strong community and that this offered an effective communication network. For this group of young people, Youth Worker A emphasised the importance of meeting the young people where they wanted to meet, whether it is school or a café, or the Children‟s Society offices. Youth Worker B highlighted the value of young people having a role model, in her work with the Roma youth in Newcastle‟s West End. She explained that the success of a current project to work with the young Roma community was largely down to having a young Roma adult to lead the group, who spoke their language and whom they could trust. This role model was also able to share his own music skills and interests with the group.

Planning Aid Officer A explained the differences between young people and other sectors of the community and the way that they engage differently to other community groups. “You have to understand the speed at which young people work. You need to offer maximum interaction and participation, a variety of engagement techniques, incentivisation, use of graphics and visualisation ”(Planning Aid Officer A, 2011)


A number of respondents, including Practitioner A, have referred to additional skill training for planning staff, young people and the wider community to promote a better dialogue about the planning process. She stressed the value of a skills programme that was offered to all participants in the community project. This programme included topics as looking at heritage value, engagement techniques and skill building for young people. It also unpicked case studies from outside the immediate area to enable the participants to identify the potential issues that needed to be addressed in their project. One of the features of the work undertaken by Local Planning Authorities in the Northern Region was the work that expert outsiders did with young people. Practitioner B explains that it is important to know when planners need that expert/ outside help. “So what planners need is the skill to judge when to rely on their own skills and when to get in those more skilled” (Practitioner B, 2011) She continues to make the point that there are skills required in both the „design‟ of engagement processes and those involved in „performing‟ them. This distinction can be compared to this report‟s analysis of the work done by Local Planning Authorities in the Northern Region (Section 3) and the realisation that skills extend beyond just the delivery of community engagement to those of planning, integrating and providing an ongoing process.

6.2 THEME B: Is it important to engage with Young People? Working with disengaged young people in the SCARPA project, Youth Worker A, emphasised the importance of keeping in regular contact with the young person. However, at the same time, their aim is not to create a culture of dependency upon their support. Through the work of Mentors and through education on „keeping safe‟ and minimising the risks to themselves, the young people begin to find their employability chances improve and qualifications are possible (Youth Worker A, 2011). Avoiding the creation of a culture of dependency is an ultimate long-term aim for these young people.


Student A suggested that young people should be taught more about town planning and „become more aware of the issues‟; that once they have an interest, that they can then express their views. He also added that professionals should carefully consider young people‟s views, if their opinions are asked for. Practitioner C acknowledges that there is great value in engaging with young people because, “work with them and you can pretty much work with anybody, and they often ask the real killer questions and suggest „obvious‟ things that adults too often miss.” (Practitioner C, 2011)

6.3 THEME C: What are the barriers to engagement with young people? Youth Worker A identified the fear of being in trouble by the police as a real barrier to young people wanting to engage with the Children‟s Society. They had to demonstrate to the young person that they could trust them to treat their personal information with confidentiality and that it would not be shared with any other organisations, without prior consent given from the individual concerned. Other barriers to engagement included lack of money and transport. Youth Worker B, speaking at the International Roma Conference, also highlighted the challenge and cost of transport to a youth group, or an event, as being a particular barrier to Roma young people being able to engage with activities in the area. In such cases, arrangements are made wherever possible to transport the young people to their activity or meeting. Previously poor experiences of young people being involved in consultation exercises had, claimed Teacher A, left them very cynical about how they could effectively engage in the decision making for their area. In one instance, there had been extensive consultations within the school in relation to the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. When the money was withdrawn from the project at central government level, it had left the young people questioning the value of the consultation exercise and the value of their individual and collective opinions.


Young people who were interviewed at another school where the BSF programme was in full delivery mode, recognised that they had been consulted in the school building programme, but felt that their views had not really been taken into account. They were sceptical about whether real consultation had taken place. One young person wrote that they wanted: “People who actually care about your ideas, rather than someone who is there just so it looks like they are making students involved”. (Student B, 2011) The same student recognised that some of their ideas might be „too adventurous‟, or „unreasonable‟ and that funding for engagement was limited, but he did note that they would like „more input from the Council and more official visitors‟ (Student B, 2011) Planning Aid Officer C commented that the timeframe for consultation on the LDF process did not fit within the school timeframe. The LDF consultation process takes months to complete and the results can rarely be fed back into the curriculum to the same students who were previously consulted. LDF Community Engagement with young people within a school framework is therefore inherently difficult, as the feedback process to the young people cannot be completed without very effective curriculum planning. Another viewpoint, expressed by Planning Aid Officer D, suggested that Planning and the perception of the Planning profession might be a barrier to Planners having a role in Community Engagement. The skills survey in Section 5 indicated that young people do want to know about town planning and some responded that to „forget about town planning‟ was „not important‟. Planning Aid Officer B and a number of LPA responses in Section 3 suggested that town planning (and particularly the LDF process) should be capable of being explained concisely (recommended 30 minute summary) as a precursor to further consultation.

6.4 THEME D: Do Town Planners engage effectively? Teacher A explained that in his experience young people wanted to be more involved in the decision making process, but whilst they do want to hear about the planning process, they do not want to hear the Officers‟ views on what facilities etc. should be provided. He thought that young people did not sufficiently influence the decision making process, although there were many


opportunities for them to be involved in Council meetings and to feed their comments through their Youth Council to the Young Mayor. This concurs with the views of Student A (from a different school and location to Teacher A), who stressed that they do want to know about the issues in town planning and that it was important to them that planners really listened to young people‟s views. Practitioner C also indicated that „what is done with the information gathered‟ is the key to effective engagement. This also links into the findings from the Case Studies on identifying „quick wins‟ and longer-term feedback, which help to make community engagement more effective and valuable to the community itself. Planning Aid Officer B noted that it was also important to receive feedback from the community to inform future engagement and planning decisions and that feedback should therefore be a two way process. When student town planners were asked about how well prepared they felt they were to undertake community engagement with young people, most of them responded positively. They considered that they had the advantage of having some valuable experience from their placement year in planning practice, as well as having the benefit of not yet being totally converted to „full planning tech speak‟ (Student Planner A, 2011). A small minority of those student planners questioned, admitted that they would learn more through experience, as time proceeded. Two students felt that they did not know how to lead a discussion and that this made them feel poorly skilled to engage with young people. Student Planner B stated that:

“Some of the skills required to effectively engage with young people are: the ability to mediate, deliver effective communication, display and maximise creativity, demonstrate leadership quality, exhibit initiative, and finally be open and honest about issues. Young people also want to be heard. They also want to know that their voice has been taken on board provide feedback on how their contribution has impacted the project.” (Student planner B, 2011)

This response conveniently summarises many of the conclusions at which this research has arrived.


Perhaps we expect too much of our initial training and ourselves as planners as we embark upon the unknown in delivering neighbourhood planning. Practitioner C responded to the list of skills identified in the survey by saying that, “All of these should at least be introduced in initial professional training but can only be consolidated later during professional practice. This distinction is important because I do not believe that all planners should be high quality communicators, facilitators, consensus-builders etc., though any team needs at least one with those skills.”(Practitioner C)

6.5 OVERALL REFLECTION ON THE REPORT‟S FINDINGS The evidence from literature and from policy agendas shows that the process of engaging with the community is essential to creating sustainable communities and forms the basis for a „sound‟ Local Development Framework that Town planners must deliver. The communities that planners serve are increasingly complex, transitional and „multi-layered‟. Whilst delivery documents are place based, the community networks themselves can cut across several places and can operate at regional or even national/ international level. When this challenge is combined with that of trying to connect with „hard to reach‟ groups such as young people, the expectations placed upon the planning system and planners‟ skills seem almost overwhelming. The evidence from work undertaken in community engagement with young people outside town planning reminds us of the value of engaging with them. Their own confidence and contribution to the community can increase, along with their skill building for later life. Community engagement with young people can bring town planners an increased knowledge of the community and its issues and possible links into other communities and issues that cut across geographical boundaries. The Planning profession is at a crossroads where so much is demanded of it yet; the image that it portrays still conjures up cynicism within community groups. However, it has been shown through the Case Studies, the Local Authority Questionnaire and the Skills Survey that young people do want to know about town planning in their area and that they do want to influence the decision making process. This is a huge affirmation of the potential value of neighbourhood/ community planning and of town


planners‟ work. However, as educators of town planners, we must be able to equip our students with those skills that are going to ensure that young people‟s voices are heard in what will become a „free for all‟ in the community battleground. The response of the student town planners in the skills survey suggests that on the whole, they feel equipped to engage with the community. Not surprisingly, the main skill that they have to their advantage is the knowledge of the planning system whilst not being weighed down by the „Planning Speak‟ that can creep in as time in planning practice builds. There is no evidence that any of the RPTI Accredited Schools of Town Planning run modules on community engagement, from the internet search that was undertaken as part of this research project. It is interesting to note that Durham University Geography BA Degree offers a module on participatory research as a third year option and the specific skills that this module teaches could give students considerable advantages over town planning graduates in one of their own fields of work, in community engagement. From the evidence of this project, perhaps it is time to look at the types of skills (i.e. Participatory Appraisal) that were so effective in the second Case Study, in Horsley Hill, that enable professionals to work directly with the community without any pre-determined agenda, or judgement. Combined with the town planning skills and knowledge that students acquire through their degree programme and with what was identified by some student planners as being a need to learn „how to lead discussions‟ (and perhaps thereby learn how to identify areas of interest that cause communities to connect, rather than clash), we can give our students a better head start in the age of the Neighbourhood Plan. Participatory Appraisal is technique that develops skills which young people have responded well to and which can be taught and used in a delegated method to the rest of the community. Whilst it would seem that planners should continue to present the planning system as a vehicle for community engagement and ultimately the promotion of a better quality of life, skills of participatory appraisal would enable planners to gain a better evidence base for their Local Development Frameworks and a better basis for getting to know the issues that affect young people, before a discussion about preferred issues and options is embarked upon. Community engagement also reaches beyond the „interface‟ stage with young people. It involves careful pre-planning and organisation; various levels of engagement; integration with other services and existing groups; and developing a continuing method of engaging with young people. Skill training should be taken seriously both within and outside initial planning training. Some specialist skills require specialist training, such as conflict resolution, negotiation and leading a discussion, where groups may become particularly entrenched in opposing viewpoints. However, perhaps the LDF system can never deliver a solution that suites everyone, so perhaps it is the process, rather than the end product, that will provide the real opportunity for otherwise


unheard members of the community to engage and express their views. Combined with a building in a number of „quick wins‟ to motivate, there is every chance that young people will remain focussed on the process which will build stronger communities.

6.6. FURTHER RESEARCH POSSIBILITIES Further research that could follow on from this report might include: looking at the different approaches taken by different Statements of Community Involvement to engaging with hard to reach groups and particularly young people; considering how we can better equip young town planners for the rigours of community engagement (including some essential participatory appraisal work and broader corporate strategy making/ delivery skills); engaging with a group of young people to establish a template for effective community engagement in the LDF process; considering what training could be offered more established town planners to improve their skills and knowledge in engaging with young people; and although not a skill - investigating the importance of „place‟ for young people (this has been a recurring theme in the research where young people have stated their desire for having a base, giving them an identity within the community); and finally, considering what training could be offered to young people in sharing the responsibility for engaging their sector of the community within the planning process.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Academy For Sustainable Communities, 2007, Mind the skills Gap, Skills we need for Sustainable Communities. Accessed 01,05.11 Brennan M, Barnett, R, 2009, Bridging Community and Youth Development: Exploring Theory, Research and Application Community development, 40:4, 305-310 Brennan M, Barnett R, McGrath B, 2009, The Intersection of Youth and Community development inIreland and Florida: Building Stronger Communities through Youth Civic Engagement, Community Development 40:4,331-345 Coombe V, 2002, Involving Young People in Local Decision Making, Joseph Rowntree Trust DCLG, 2008, PPS12, creating strong safe and prosperous communities through Local Spatial Planning DCLG, 2010, Decentralisation and Localism Bill Driskell,D, 2002, Creating Better Cities with Children and Youth, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and Earthscan Egan Review, 2004, Skills for Sustainable Communities Forester J, 1999, The deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes, MIT Press London Forester J, 2009, Dealing with Differences: Dramas of mediating Public Disputes, Oxford Habermas J, 1979, Communication and the Evolution of Society, Heineman London Healey P, 2006, Collaborative Planning: Shaping Places in Fragmented Societies, Palgrave Macmillan, New York Healey P, 2007, Urban Complexity and Spatial Strategies, RTPI Series


Healey P, 2010, making Better Places: The Planning Project in the Twenty First Century, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke Homes and Communities Agency, 2009, Mind the Skills Gap Illsley B, 2002, Planning with Communities, RTPI Jenkins P, Hague C, 2005, Reconceptualising the Narratives of Place Identity in Planning, in: Place Identity, Participation and Planning, Edited: Hague C, Jenkins P, RTPI Series Routledge, Oxfordshire Kitchen T, 2007, Skills for Planning Practice, Palgrave Local Government Improvement and Development, Planning Advisory Service, Entec, 2010, Community engagement in Plan Making,, accessed 3.3.11 Morphet J, 2007, Modern Local Government, Sage Publications Ltd Morphet J, 2011, Effective Practice in Spatial Planning, RTPI Library Series, Routledge North Tyneside Council, North Shields Town Centre Draft Area Action Plan OPDM, 2005 Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development Rogerson, Sadler S, Wong, Green, 2011, Planning sustainable Communities – Skills and Learning to Envision future Communities: An Introduction, Town planning Review Vol 81 Issue 5 RTPI, 2005, A Survey of Discipline Knowledge and Generic Skills of RTPI Corporate Members, , accessed 27.4.11 Sarkissian W, Hurford D, 2010, Creative Community Planning: transformative Engagement Methods for Working at the Edge, Earthscan, London


Schon D, 1971, beyond the Stable State: Public and Private Learning in a Changing Society Schon D, 1983, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action South Tyneside Council, 2006, Horsley Hill Estate Neighbourhood Action Plan South Tyneside Council, 2010, Horsley Hill Estate neighbourhood Action Plan Refresh


APPENDIX 1: Good Practice Community Engagement Projects within the Local Development Framework

Local Planning Authority

Nature of Community Engagement Exercise

Gloucester City Council

Online Forum and newsletters to keep the community informed Has linked the Core Strategy and the Community Strategy A Consultancy asked the community what their pririties were and these were distributed in a leaflet to obtain feedback on their order of importance. A joint approach to involving young people within the City Centre AAP, including Planning Aid, engagement consultants and Yorkshire Forward. A council officer assesses the impact of planning policy on school children, black and ethnic minorities, older people and those with disabilities. Various innovative approaches for involving the community in Hulme. Planning Aid North supported the involvement of young people in the Walker Riverside AAP, through a school education programme One of an increasing number of planning authorities that now employs a Community Planner.

Hambleton District Council Ipswich City Council

Leeds City Council

Liverpool City Council

Manchester City Council Newcastle City Council

Plymouth City Council


Local Planning Authority

Nature of Community Engagement Exercise

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council

Has adopted a cross-council approach to engagement. It developed a „Monopoly‟ type game to raise the awareness of the key issues to inform local spatial planning. Aimed to capture a required number of responses and representations. Held drop-in sessions, visited markets, telephone marketing and visited community groups. Young people had debating competitions between secondary schools, but also broke into smaller groups to research areas for improvements. Ambitious young people music event at Richmond castle. Used a newsletter and questionnaire for the early stages of the LDF process. Established a core policy on Engagement. The Local Strategic Partnership and the Planning Authority worked together on the LDF. Used Facebook to raise the awareness of planning amongst young people. Tested the existing evidence base by holding a series of events across the county to decide if they wanted growth and development. Through Planning aid west midlands the Council was able to target hard to reach and „easily ignored‟ groups. Entitled „ Shropshire Rural Project‟.

Richmondshire Council

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Ryedale District Council Sheffield City Council Salford City Council Shropshire Council


Local Planning Authority

Nature of Community Engagement Exercise

South Gloucestershire Council

Held a series of community surgeries and targeted events with key stakeholders and groups Ran a photographic competition to raise awareness of the LDF and to identify peopleâ€&#x;s favourite places. Employs Community Planners

South Ribble Borough Council Swindon Council Trafford City Council Waverley Borough Council

York City Council

Used Facebook to raise awareness of the LDF amongst the young. Community workshops held to assist in establishing new housing targets following the scrapping of the South East Plan. Involved local young people, with the support of consultants, on the City Centre AAP

The entries identified in the table above are all examples of good practice that are already highlighted in at least one of the following websites: Planning Advisory Service: Homes and Communities Website: Commission for Built environment (CABE):


APPENDIX 2: Contributors to the Project Individuals Jeff Bishop Catherine Butler Mike Dando Jackie Dibbly Claire Dobinson- Booth Rose Gilroy Patsy Healey John Hiles Jean Hillier Kevin Lillie Mike Linsley Daniel Massey Keith Page Rhona Pringle Jude Quill Rachel Sainthouse Wendy Sarkission Graham Sword Nick Wates David Webb Students from the Youth Council of Harton School of Technology, South Shields Sixth Form Students from St. Thomas More, North shields Students from Norham Community Technology College, North Shields Certificate in Planning Practice Year Out Students, 2010-2011, Newcastle University


Local Planning Authorities Bradford City Council Craven District Council Darlington Borough Council East riding Council Gateshead Council Harrogate Council Hull City Council Manchester City Council Middlesbrough Council Northumberland County South Tyneside Borough Council Wakefield Council York City Council Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Teresa Strachan School of Architecture Planning and Landscape Newcastle University Email: ďƒ“ Teresa Strachan 2011


Profile for School of APL, Newcastle University

Engaging young people in the local development process  

This research project set out to identify what skills town planners require to fulfil one of their roles in engaging with the community, wit...

Engaging young people in the local development process  

This research project set out to identify what skills town planners require to fulfil one of their roles in engaging with the community, wit...