New online consultation service for Neighbourhood Plans

by Ed Dade


Posted on July 21, 2020


I am pleased to launch a new online consultation service for Neighbourhood Plans. The Consult app transforms your Neighbourhood Plan into an interactive, online version of your plan.

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About the Consult app

Consultation and community engagement are at the heart of neighbourhood planning. Increasingly people are used to doing things online, using a range of devices. Yet, whilst it is common-place to access Neighbourhood Plan documents online, the consultation process usually lack the interactive experience users may expect.

For example, many Parish Council / Neighbourhood Forums website's provide the Neighbourhood Plan document as a static document download, which is often not easily readable on smaller devices such as phones and tablets. Comments are normally submitted via a separate form or email address. Once received, comments may be tucked away in a separate report, severed from the main plan document.

I have sought to tackle this problem by developing the online Consult service to provide an intuitive, user-friendly and interactive way of doing Neighbourhood Plan consultation.

Purpose and benefits

Making it easier to navigate and take part in Neighbourhood Plan consultations will encourage more people to have their say. The Consult app seeks to keep things simple and intuitive for the benefit of both those responding and the Parish Council / Neighbourhood Forum.

The Consult app transforms your Neighbourhood Plan into an interactive, online version of your plan. This ensures your plan looks great on a range of devices including smaller screens, allowing people to read and comment even from a mobile phone or tablet.

During formal consultation periods, each plan section provides an online comment form. After signing up, users can easily and intuitively add their comments to the relevant section of the plan. This helps people to spontaneously add their views when they are thinking of them - and ensures people add their comments in the right place, making analysis simpler.

Formal consultation periods are strictly enforced. People cannot make a comment outside of formal consultation periods.

After moderation, comments are displayed below the corresponding section of the plan. This provides transparency, allowing people to see the comments of others, and will help reassure people that their views matter and will be taken into consideration - as their comments will be on public display.

Following close of consultation the Parish Council / Neighbourhood Forum will receive a report of all comments received, making analysis simple. Personal data will be managed responsibly and securely in accordance with the Privacy Policy.

If you choose to host your plan on the Consult app, the online consultation process will principally be managed by myself. This means parish councils and neighbourhood forums can enjoy the benefits of the Consult app, without needing to be tech savvy.

Find out more

Further details of the service you can expect are explained at Get 'Consult' for your Neighbourhood Plan. In addition, I have provided a 'live' example of a Neighbourhood Plan consultation, which you can explore and even comment on if you wish!

To discuss your requirements, please contact info@neighbourhood-planning.co.uk.

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