Engagement and consultation
The Engagement and consultation section suggests factors to consider when engaging with the public and elected representatives about parks transformation.
Public consultation and stakeholder engagement is an essential part of the decision making process, testing public appetite for change and shaping your proposals as they develop.
Whilst there will be legal requirements to consult for certain elements of implementation, for example, asset transfer, it is good practice to build engagement and consultation into project planning from the start.
It’s important to understand how people feel about their parks currently and what is important to them - their principles. We commissioned Britain Thinks to research how residents of one city feel about their parks. Using an innovative ethnographic methodology as well as workshops and a web-based survey, Britain Thinks explained the current funding and management challenges and sought people's views on the best solution.
Certain principles resonated strongly with residents, in particular that parks should be safe and accessible. Residents felt that parks and green spaces added value to their lives, to the environment, and to the city as a whole. One resident said: "Parks should be at the heart of the city. It means different things to different people, but it’s key to society."
The following video outlines the research findings.
This research is also summarised in the Public opinions research summary, below, which provides guidance on the key principles to consider when planning and holding a conversation with residents about transforming how parks are funded and managed. You may well wish to undertake similar work in your own city - this work will be of particular interest to Councillors and senior council officers.
To help you make better decisions about parks in your place, it might also be helpful to commission audience insights or market research to get a better understanding of who is using parks and how, how they rate their experience, and what they would like to see more or less of.
For more information on the public engagement process in Newcastle, see Consultation and co-design.