The Coronavirus outbreak is impacting directly on the consultation and stakeholder engagement process for development projects. As with larger-scale events or conferences, there is potential for public consultations to be delayed or even cancelled because of the virus. Whilst current advice does not affect smaller-scale events, the development sector will need to urgently review how community engagement can continue during this period.

Digital engagement is the best available solution for our sector. Given the fast pace of events, the question for us is how quickly digital engagement can replace face-to-face meetings during the planning process. We recognise the importance of innovation in property technology (PropTech) and are considering ways we can use it to benefit you.

At Cascade, we are well versed in digital engagement and deliver campaigns for a range of clients, most recently to gain advocacy for our client’s proposed redevelopment of the House of Fraser site in Richmond town centre. We ran a Facebook ad campaign which reached over 14,000 people and led to a tangible increase in support. The proposals were subsequently approved by Richmond Council on 11 March 2020.

Our digital engagement tools and communications channels are replacing public consultation events and we have developed a six-point plan for new projects or applications already in the planning system.

  • Replacing face-to-face political and community stakeholder meetings with phone or video conference call facilities
  • Ensuring public involvement through advertising consultations using Facebook and Twitter to reach targeted groups in the area around a development site
  • Boosting public participation through internet live streams or pre-recorded videos, promoted using Facebook
  • Creating online live Q&As hosted via project social media pages with the questions and comments properly moderated
  • Delivering online questionnaires via development project websites and social media pages, all accessible via a PC, mobile or tablet
  • Posting consultation packs including copies of exhibition materials, questionnaires, and pre-paid Freepost envelopes to residents who are unable to express their views online

Our approach to using existing technological solutions coupled with the long-term trend of people working and communicating online will ensure that you are kept one step ahead of the curve.