Invest in the neighbourhood
It pays to consult the community. Here’s why
When it comes to ensuring a smooth process on a development, collaborating with both the community and local council is key.
To get the community on your side, the first thing you’ve got to do is get on theirs. Treat the community and the local residents as if they’re another partner on the project by extending the same respect you would to a consultant, architect or builder. Effective community engagement provides an opportunity to strengthen a developer’s relationship with the community, by ensuring decision making is informed by the community’s needs and aspirations.
The first step
Before we start a dialogue with the local community on any development, our in–house planning team create a strategy for how best to engage. A crucial step in that strategy involves inviting locals to meet with us to find out about the development and voice any questions or concerns. As our Development and Planning manager Daniel Barber explains, “You need to see things coming before they’re upon you. That’s why clear communications with the council and community ensures a smooth process.”
Timing is everything
In order to minimise the concerns of the local community, it’s essential that you choose the right time to begin the conversation. Make sure you have resolved any issues with the council before you present the development to the local residents. Entering the conversation with unresolved problems or half-realised ideas may end up only reinforcing their concern. Basically, be prepared in order to prepare the community.
“Facilitating and maintaining the conversation you have initiated with the community is paramount to a development’s success. It is not enough to just implement a letterbox drop and host a successful town meeting”
To develop a healthy and trusting relationship with the community, you need to have the right community consultant on board who understands how to talk to the people in the area and ensure that their concerns are understood. Clear communication with the council and the community allows for a smoother process which will help get you to market faster.
Keep the conversation going
We have learnt that facilitating and maintaining the conversation we have initiated with the community is paramount to a development’s success. It is not enough to implement a letterbox drop and host a successful town meeting. Throughout a project, new queries or concerns may arise among local residents and they will be eager to keep the conversation going. Transparency, patience and understanding is critical to gaining the support of your development’s surrounding community.
Address the issues early
Daniel Barber explains that unnecessary costs and delays can occur during the planning assessment process as a result of failing to address the key concerns of council, community, and relevant stakeholders. Early consultation with these parties can keep these costs and delays at bay. “Many consider when it comes to getting approval for your development, the best approach is to hope for the best but expect the worst. But by taking these cautionary steps, getting the right partners onboard, and engaging the community early, you are more likely to have a smoother development process”, he says.