Deetu, part of the wider BWB Group, alongside Blueprint, the developer behind award-winning Nottingham neighbourhoods such as Green Street in The Meadows and Trent Basin, have been shortlisted for a national award.
The Trent Basin Waterside Engagement Exercise has reached the Stakeholder Engagement in Planning shortlist for this year’s Planning Awards. The awards recognise outstanding work by councils, consultants, developers, lawyers, voluntary groups and other key organisations operating in the UK planning system.
The Trent Basin engagement exercise – a digitally led public consultation – commissioned by Blueprint, provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the urban regeneration of the new neighbourhood and the wider Nottingham waterside area.
This led to a revolutionary, digital-first stakeholder engagement exercise that increased meaningful participation by 1500% with an overall approval rating of 94%.
Josh Dickerson, Associate at Deetu and Engagement Project Lead, said: “Myself and the team at Deetu are thrilled to have been shortlisted for the award.
“The project provided us with the opportunity to put in practice the art of the possible when it comes to exemplar digitally-led engagement.
“I want to thank everyone that contributed to the consultation; it was great to see such enthusiasm in creating a place informed by so many views, especially during such testing times.”
Rather than being constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable developer Blueprint took the opportunity to rethink the traditional engagement methodology, providing a truly inclusive, anytime, and anywhere consultation using real community evidence to influence its design. Trent Basin will be the heart of this new community, so being innovatively designed to meet the current and future communities’ needs was crucial.
It was vital to gain a comprehensive understanding of the local community to better engage with them. The use of innovative, interactive tools, combined with powerful data analytics, and an emphasis on youth-friendly content ensured that a remarkably diverse audience, including those seldom heard, was consulted during a multi-stage, irrefutably transparent engagement campaign.
Blueprint Chief Executive Samantha Veal added that “This engagement exercise allowed us to reach a far greater audience than our traditional approach, including a much wider demographic. Because of this, the feedback is far richer and the outcome is a better development proposal which reflects a truly representative range of needs and viewpoints.”
At the core of their engagement strategy was a series of digital tools adapted to reflect each specific audience’s required language complexity and technical understanding. A virtual consultation room and drop-in sessions complemented the extensive online guided masterplan walkthrough, which used interactive state of the art visuals, CGIs, audio commentary and fly-through 360° digital flows.
Feedback throughout the engagement not only supported the sustainable principles of the environmentally led design. It pushed for more green space around the basin, more planting in the courtyards and more people-friendly zones. By undertaking continuous engagement throughout the design process, the team amended the masterplan based on real community-sourced evidence.
“This was a first for us. The interactive tools offered a constructive way to gain an understanding of the scheme. It not only saved us time, but gave us a lot more information to determine our views than a typical application. We hope that others would use this approach.” Jim Rae, Senior Principal Planning Officer – Nottingham City Council.
Samantha Veal continued: “From the beginning, this engagement was not just about gathering one-way feedback or even holding a two-way dialogue. It was about creating authentic, multi-faceted conversations in the community.
“Creating a sense of social wellbeing was key within this defiantly transparent engagement. It wasn’t just a case of ticking a box of support; it was about ensuring people knew that their opinions would genuinely make a difference to the future of their community.
The Planning Awards will be held at a virtual ceremony on the 9th and 10th June.