Step 8: Consultation

The need to engage with the communities living and working in the vicinity of a site was identified to help understand how previously developed land (PDL) sites are perceived and to draw in ideas for how to develop a sustainable project that will be valued and used.

It will be important to have a reasonable level of certainty that a project will proceed before going out to wider consultation. This will ensure that stakeholders are not potentially disappointed by failure to deliver a scheme.

In taking a project out to consultation the following elements should be considered:

  • have in place clear ideas about what is possible on the site
  • present early stage concept drawings that people can comment on
  • provide clarity on timescales (whilst explaining that delays can be possible. Don’t set a definite date but rather an indicative target such as early summer)
  • ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to enable communities to inform and influence the process
  • ensure that the consultation team is properly briefed so that a consistent message is communicated throughout the process
  • keep a record of discussions and key issues raised to inform later design discussions and to demonstrate effective consultation
  • find a way of keeping stakeholders up to date on progress, for example using a local web-site or the local press.

Planning application

Any proposals to provide open space on PDL should include early consultation with the local planning authority, primarily to establish whether planning permission is needed. In most cases it is likely that planning permission will be required where the proposal will constitute a material change of use.

Whether or not a change of use is material is largely a matter of fact and will be for the local planning authority to decide, therefore early consultation and negotiation is highly recommended. The formality of the open space proposed may have an impact on whether the local authority requires planning permission.

Making a planning application

  • Change of Use: whether or not a change of use is material is a matter for the local planning authority to decide, therefore early consultation and negotiation is highly recommended.
  • Application fee: when making a planning application a fee will be paid to the planning authority. Further information on fees can be ascertained from the relevant local planning authority.
  • EIA screening: in some cases a development proposal may result in significant positive and negative environmental impacts. Where there is uncertainty as to the need to undertake EIA, a screening opinion can be sought from the planning authority to determine whether EIA will be required.

Cost planning

A cost plan should be prepared with details on costs for project development as well as detailed costings for project delivery and post implementation. A cost plan would include, for example, the following:

Start up

  • bidding for funding
  • meeting room rental
  • subsistence costs for partnership group
  • communication and marketing
  • materials costs (e.g. stationary)
  • overheads such as office space and equipment hire
  • Consultants fees including project manager
  • scoping of maintenance and management requirements
  • Contractor’s drawings including a site plan, landscape plan, infrastructure plans (roads, drainage, etc.)
  • license and planning application fees.

Project delivery

  • project management
  • Contractors fees
  • plant hire
  • marketing
  • project operation
  • regular site maintenance
  • staff salaries
  • taxes and insurances
  • events marketing
  • building management, including overheads costs such as heating and electricity.

Funding strategy

A funding strategy will enable the project team to work through what a scheme may potentially be eligible for or not, as well as what actions need to be taken, including identifying timescales for applications, finding additional match funding and identifying qualifying organisational structures.

It is also important to be mindful of funding payment systems and to find out if payments are made before, during or after a project has been developed. Such structures may directly affect a project’s viability should alternative up-front funding be unavailable. In some cases it may also be necessary to spend funding before a certain date making careful project planning and time management a critical factor.


By the end of this process you should know the following:


Project development and delivery

Additional stakeholders and funders identified


Objectives are developed with sets of tasks with responsibilities agreed with team members and project partners


Effective project management skills are essential at this stage


Risks are considered, identified and contingencies put in place


Actions are identified, agreed and implemented


A programme is put in place and milestones set to help monitor progress


Planning application is made and permission secured


Potential Funding sources identified


Consultation checklist

By the end of this process you should know the following:


Find out who might be interested and could make a contribution to the project vision


Identify a suitable location for presentation of early ideas


Advertise the consultation event widely and provide sufficient advance warning (no less than two weeks)


Ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to allow consultation responses influence the project in a real way


Keep a record of consultation discussions and create a statement to demonstrate how the proposal has responded