Consultation and co-design

In Spring 2017, Newcastle City Council set out a broad vision for parks transformation and developed the Proposal for Newcastle's Parks for public consultation.


The public consultation invited input and feedback through the Council's Let's Talk Newcastle online consultation platform, public meetings and drop-in sessions, and digital engagement tools, including a Newcastle Parks Twitter account and the Newcastle City Council Facebook page. There was also more traditional on site questionnaire work across the parks (see the Parks questionnaire in the resources section below).


The consultation was supported by the Let’s Talk Parks engagement programme, run by Newcastle University’s OpenLab (see the dropdown below), and was promoted by OpenLab, the council’s portfolio holder and HLF North East’s Ivor Crowther. There was also significant local and national media coverage, and on site publicity about the consultation (see Consultation publicity material).









The video below captures some of the public’s feedback on the consultation.




Feedback from the public consultation was developed into a Public consultation report and Consultation feedback slides, which can be found in the resources section, below. A report of questions and answers from the consultation feedback sessions can be found in Consultation feedback session Q&As.


Let's Talk Parks

Let’s Talk Parks was a process designed by Newcastle University’s OpenLab to engage parks staff, parks communities, city residents, and stakeholders to re-think the way public parks are run and co-design possible solutions for the delivery of parks services. Let’s Talk Parks offered offline and online tools to support the discussion and contribution of ideas, concerns and knowledge in transforming the way public parks are delivered.




The questions and scenarios which underpinned Let’s Talk Parks’ public engagement were co-produced with park stakeholders and external partners. OpenLab initially worked with Social Finance and council officers to develop scenarios that focused on income generation, which were tested with a number of stakeholders including parks officers from other local authorities, volunteers, rangers, and parks managers. Open Lab then worked with Newcastle City Council’s parks team to develop additional questions and scenarios around governance and structures, volunteering, activities and priorities.  


The Let’s Talk Parks public consultation centred around four broad questions and related scenarios:

  1. Where should the money come from?
  2. What activities should parks support?
  3. What role should volunteers play in parks?
  4. How should decisions for parks be made?


The public consultation comprised three strands of engagement:

1.     Let’s Talk Parks digital platform

This platform was designed to provide ways for members of the public to contribute responses, ideas and concerns around the topics as well as act as a repository for opinions and ideas gathered across Twitter discussions and workshops. The platform also provided the opportunity to cast votes on each of the questions posed as well as to vote up or down people’s comments, ideas and concerns published on the platform.


2.     Let’s Talk Parks Twitter hours

These were designed to engage people in Twitter discussions online. Each Twitter Hour focused on a different question and provided opportunities to take part in dynamic polls on possible alternative futures for parks.


3.     Let’s Talk Parks Workshops and Workshop Kit

These were designed to support two hours of focused discussion and team work on the challenges of transformation of park services and generate ideas and guidelines for how parks services could or should be run in the future.


The Let’s Talk Parks website attracted 1174 users; Twitter Hours received 1989 responses, and 143 people participated in Let’s Talk Parks workshops.


In terms of resource, the Let’s Talk Parks engagement process required:

  • A team to define public consultation questions and future scenarios
  • Communications staff to upload content to the platform and lead twitter hours
  • Facilitators to lead workshop events (one per table of five or one per workshop).


The findings of Let’s Talk Parks are included in the Public Consultation Report, which also includes more detail on OpenLab’s process (see Section 5).


OpenLab are developing a Let’s Talk Parks online engagement toolkit, which will be shared on this page in due course.

To open these downloadable resources you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader. This can be downloaded from