Engaging and mobilising communities

New housing developments and walking and cycling projects can be controversial when people don't understand what is intended and what benefits they will gain from them, for example better local services and less traffic on their streets.

Consequently, many schemes that have been subject to a lot of 'up front' design work actually fail at consultation stage or are heavily compromised in some way. For this reason, it is important to undertake early, pre-design engagement so that the community is able to identify local issues that matter to them. When stakeholder training is included, the usefulness of their inputs increases as they play a more central, co-design role in network appraisal and planning. Typical issues and solutions could include:

  • Issue raised by residents: Too much motor traffic on residential streets - 

    • Practitioner's suggested response: consider closing through streets to cars but keeping them open for people walking and cycling.

  • Issue raised by residents: Speeding and anti-social driving around schools - 

    • Practitioner's suggested response: consider implementing a timed 'school street' where cars are banned between certain times


Online tools such as Commonplace have proved their worth when combined with on street events and public engagement workshops organised by specialists and facilitated by built environment professionals. A recent online webinar hosted by Commonplace usefully outlines challenges and solutions.


We can design and facilitate small-scale engagement events or sub-contract specialists to provide a range of more sophisticated solutions designed to make the most of local knowledge and mobilise communities to help design their neighbourhoods.

'Facilitating' means having people with relevant professional qualifications and experience present at engagement events to discuss or show what is possible and find solutions from what people tell us.

Our facilitating services help to:

  • build local understanding of planning and transport systems

  • build participants' understanding of the options available based on successful practice elsewhere

  • establish clear scoping parameters, including limits on what is achievable given existing guidance and legislation.

  • generate workable solutions based on what people tell us about local problems and wishes.

The professional services we draw together include:

  • experienced communications professionals to develop sound communications and media strategies.

  • engagement professionals, to design and deliver exciting and immersive stakeholder involvement in planning the future of their areas.

  • experienced practitioner-facilitators including strategy / policy specialists (ActivePlanning), highway engineers, landscape architects and urban designers as required.

  • GIS and 3D visualisation specialists to provide mapping and graphic design support.


We provide or commission stakeholder engagement so that time spent on developing projects is time well-spent.













Specialists we've worked with on projects or tenders include:

Bespoke, a sole trader engagement consultant who draws on his experience working for the London Borough of Waltham Forest's mini-Holland.

BrightKidz, a schools behaviour change specialist in behaviour change communications for children, based in Kettering.

Nicole Crockett, a sole trader specialising in community engagement (no website).

Mobility Lab, a tech-based transport engagement specialist, based in Milton Keynes.

MP Smarter Travel, a consultancy with a long history of finding out why people travel the way they do and what tips the balance towards different travel behaviour.

Open Accessame, a sole trader consultancy specialising in engaging Disabled people in public space design and accessibility assessment (no website).

NewPractice, a branding, PR and communications specialist consultancy that provides public engagement and involvement services, based in Glasgow and London.