Planning for Involvement

The major pitfall of consultation and involvement processes are that they can be inconclusive, consume a lot of time and can be quite unpleasant and challenging.

The more planning that goes into the process the more likely that this can be avoided. There are now large amounts of guidance available to assist with planning these processes and most start with the need to ensure that the involvement process is tailor made to the needs and interests of stakeholders and is relevant to the project which is the subject of their involvement.

COSS has compiled a useful guide Involving Your Community taking you through the steps to consider when planning your consultation.

The purpose of involvement

The stakeholder involvement plan will need to be clear about the purpose of involvement and the Continuum of Engagement is a helpful tool for this since it will help to determine the kinds of information that is produced, the format and numbers of people involved in discussions and the time and resources the process requires. 

The continuum of involvement

↓ Information Giving

To provide people with information to assist their understanding

↓ Information Collecting

To collect information about attitudes, opinions and preferences that will assist your understanding and decision making

↓ Consultation

To obtain feedback on specific policies and proposals

↓ Participation

To involve people actively at all stages to ensure that their concerns are understood and considered and to give them some influence on and ownership of decisions

↓ Collaboration

To bring people into active partnership and agree sharing of resources and decision making

↓ Delegated Authority

To transfer resources and decision making


Key public sector stakeholders in asset development and transfer projects

Central Government

As funders and regulators, particularly in relation to disposal of public assets, application of EU procurement and State Aid rules, both members and officers have a key influence on projects

Local Government

As funders and regulators, particularly in relation to land use planning policy and approvals, both members and officers have a key influence on projects

Other public service providers

Health, housing, education and police service providers from the public and social enterprise sectors. Organisations like Registered Social Landlords, local government service departments and local regeneration agencies and partnerships. The local voluntary and community sector is also likely to be a key provider of support to asset development and transfer projects.

Stakeholders and project development

The involvement plan will need to consider how development of the project -from the initial setting of project objectives through to its final completion ­will take place and how stakeholders may be involved at each stage. Are you ready? outlines the process of setting objectives and ensuring that they are clear. To involve stake holders in these discussions is important and will differ from project to project but is likely to include discussions on:

  • Needs that the project will meet - for housing, community facilities, workspace, surplus revenue to support or carry out other activities etc.
  • The design and construction of the project - preparation of a brief and the appointment of professional advisors
  • Developing, if necessary, a new organisation - making it happen and agreeing its legal structure and governance (who its members are, how it makes decisions)
  • Securing support for the project - identifying other stakeholders who might support the project with the resources or skills needed to make the project happen.
  • How the project will meet the project objectives - what kind of asset will be developed, who will benefit, who will own it, who will occupy it and how it will be run and maintained
  • Stakeholders' role in the project when it is complete.

How this work with stake holders takes place will depend on the specific circumstances of the project and the resources and skills available. A detailed process usually involves a combination of methods that address the following:

  • People - stakeholders that have been have identified (the wider public or smaller groupings)
  • Product - what is to be produced as an outcome of the process? (An agreed design, an agreed process or procedure etc)
  • Pace - the time available and when things will need to happen.
  • Price - how much will it cost -time and money
  • Process - the method that will suit stakeholders and get the desired outcome

The list below describes some specific techniques which have been used in other projects and there are a large number of guides, toolkits and publications which can help to plan a process and implement it for any project. See ‘Resources’ section for information on these.

Techniques to involve communities

  • Planning for Real ® - a tool for considering all the needs in a neighbourhood. It is particularly appropriate for considering land and buildings since it is based around a scale model. The model of a neighbourhood / village / building is created by the community and often toured in the area to promote a Planning for Real ® event or series of events where the model is used to draw out views and ideas that can then be prioritised and acted upon. The packs include model making instructions, templates for publicity and agendas for events.
  • Village / Community Appraisals - A series of community surveys are undertaken to consider all aspects of community life and encourage action by local volunteers and statutory agencies. A report of the process is then produced and launched to guide future local action and review progress.
  • Community planning weekends or Charette - a widely publicised weekend of design exercises, presentations and meeting site visits and discussion with professional advisors. The purpose is often to come up with a draft plan for a building or area within a weekend and present it back to the public who have participated in the events to agree how to make it happen.
  • Action Planning Workshops - an action plan on an agreed issue or concern is developed in structured workshops which are devised to include as many people as possible and result in positive proposals for action.
  • Visioning - A conference or event which aims to develop and agree a shared vision of the future by people who attend. It may be focused on the future of a neighbourhood, village or site; or on a policy issue such as affordable housing or workspace in a locality

Related Resources

Involving Your Community

A practical guide to the benefits and techniques for involving and consulting local communities in community asset based projects.

Last updated July 2020

PDF icon Involving Your Community 2020.pdf

A Handbook of Public & Stakeholder Engagement

The purpose of this handbook from Dialogue by Design is to help those charged with public and stakeholder engagement to do it better

PDF icon A Handbook of Public & Stakeholder Engagement (Dialogue by Design)