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17/08/2020

Low engagement from young adults with local plans, poll finds

Words: Laura Edgar
Consultation / iStock-1145050082

A recent poll has found that just 11 per cent of young adults have knowingly engaged with consultations on their area’s local plan.

The results of the YouGov poll* highlight the extent of the challenge that local and national governments face in order to engage meaningfully with housing and planning, says the marketing agency Social, commissioners of the poll.

Looking across all age groups, 26 per cent of respondents said they had engaged with a local plan consultation, while 69 per cent have not been involved in the process.

Ben Lowndes, a director at Social, commented: “This research highlights a significant challenge for policy makers, who are rightly looking at ways to meaningfully involve the public in future plans for their area.

“Local plans are hugely important in determining where homes and employment happens in an area. In our experience, the level of engagement in this process is often limited to those with vested interests and time to spend in trawling through and responding to detailed and complex information.

“If local plans are to have a more significant role in reflecting an area’s needs and aspirations, this engagement gap must be addressed.”

The results of the survey follow the government's consultation document Planning for the Future which commits to ensuring that communities will be consulted from the beginning of the planning process.

The poll also found the following:

  • 80 per cent of respondents aged between 18 and 34 have not engaged in a local plan consultation.
  • 9 per cent of people aged between 18 and 34 were unsure if they had.
  • 51 per cent cited knowing their feedback on the local plan would “make a difference” as a key reason for engaging. This rises to 73 per cent amongst those 613 respondents who said they had participated in a local plan consultation. 
  • Better promotion of information (41 per cent), and the clarity / simplicity of that information (37 per cent) were also cited as reasons for engaging.

Lowndes said the government is right to want local plans to be simpler. “We know from our work with communities that people care passionately about their areas and will engage positively if the consultation process is clear, accessible and easy to understand.

It is necessary to move away from asking people to read and respond to dense documents or attend events at village halls in order to give their feedback, Lowndes added.

In response to the survey, Fiona Howie, chief executive at the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), commented: “We know there is an urgent need to rebuild trust in the planning system. Supporting everyone within communities to participate in plan-making will be an important part of working to achieve that.

“As this research highlights, people must know that their involvement will be meaningful and listened too.

“There also needs to be culture change at national and local levels, so that involving communities in planning is seen as a good thing that will result in higher quality plans and better outcomes from the system. Community involvement must not be compromised in an attempt to simply speed up the system.”

* There were 2,296 respondents to the poll.

Image credit | iStock

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