Thursday, 9th October 2014

Community engagement – achieving acceptance on infrastructure projects’ event

Community engagement requires soft skills: conclusions from Temple & Ciria’s ‘achieving acceptance on infrastructure projects’ event

On 9th October 2014 Temple and Ciria jointly ran an event entitled ‘achieving acceptance on infrastructure projects’, hosted at Ciria’s office. The event featured two Temple speakers, alongside speakers from Team London Bridge, TfL and Bircham Dyson Bell. Temple’s Katie Anderton, who works on LOCIP alongside TfL, gave a presentation which discussed the organisation’s commitment to maintaining a positive reputation through effective community engagement. Temple’s Jenny Stafford gave an engaging talk on good practice in community engagement.

As community engagement can take many different forms, we ensured that the event covered a range of different perspectives. Shane Baker of Team London Bridge discussed how they engage local businesses and what can be achieved when that happens (check out their planned linear ‘pocket garden’ at the Greenwood theatre, here). Angus Walker of Bircham Dyson Bell gave a speech which detailed requirements for stakeholder consultation under the Planning Act 2008.

Despite the different perspectives and various projects cited, various themes weaved their way through all of the presentations. For example early engagement was considered by several speakers to be vital. Soft skills were also one of the main topics discussed in the panel session and drawn out by the chair, Temple’s Dr Martin Gibson.  As Jenny put it, “what people really want is not a relaying of technical jargon but to be talked to honestly and openly”.

After the event attendees were invited to take part in an interactive exercise using an enlarged matrix that can be used to rapidly consider how well engagement might go on a particular project. It is based on a project’s general levels of controversy versus its local benefits.

We thank all the speakers and delegates for their involvement in the event and we look forward to organising future events with Ciria.