‘Can you hear me mother?’ *
Steve Quartermain CBE suggests how to approach the NPPF Consultation with a different mindset
White papers, consultation documents, promises to fix this or that; promises that when you look back, go much further back than you think…where do we go from here?
From the perspective of the system user, whether you are developer, planning professional or community member, this can all sound a bit familiar and, in some quarters, commentators may have reminisced about the good ol’ days “when things were much better”.
Instead, I’d argue there are three things to consider when embarking on a consultation.
Firstly, be the voice of the user.
The key to engaging with government thinking is to engage. Many opinions will be on the radar of Ministers as they consider their policy options whether it is a think tank, economist, or policy ‘expert” But the voice of the user can often be the one hardest to hear.
Secondly, grasp what needs to be achieved.
If you want to be more influential, you must first understand the objective and then see if you can help deliver it, perhaps in a different way. Just saying “I wouldn’t do that “ seldom sways thinking.
Thirdly, make sure your view is heard on specifics, not just general points.
It is important not to assume your thinking is already on the table. So if you believe that the track changes in the NPPF are wrong ..sing out. If you consider taking account of a developer’s “character” is inappropriate …sing out (et al).
Will current thinking last the course? Are better or different ideas coming down the line? These questions are not a reason to ignore the consultation
The closing date for the ‘con docs’ is looming; make sure you don’t miss it.
*catchphrase of Sandy Powell, comedian