Commercial Community Mediation
When there is public controversy and objection to a planning application, reclamation of land, compulsory purchase or changes to public services our mediators help broker an agreement between the opposing parties.
Community mediators will remain impartial, regardless of who is paying our fees
Often members of the public feel angry, frustrated and ignored when a planning application is submitted or changes are made by a corporate or public organisation . People feel aggrieved when they are not given an opportunity to discuss their fears, when they need answers or when their written objections are ignored. Often they would welcome the opportunity to speak to the decision makers from the applicant organisation. They want the applicant organisation to listen to their ideas and their alternative solutions and to be treated fairly.
On receipt of an instruction, the mediator will make an appointment to speak to the decision makers from the applicant organisation . This meeting will enable the mediator to understand the needs of the applicant, what the timescales are and what solutions they have considered.
The Mediator will meet and listen to all the objectors to the project, this may be in the form of a public meeting, allocated appointment open day or visiting individuals in their homes. In cases where there are very large number of objections then a random number of objectors who have signed a petition will be contacted or a selection of representatives of individual community groups.
Private meeting with members public help our mediators clarify and re frame the objection. They help people find achievable, realistic solutions and consider options and focus on agreement points which will suit the needs of the majority.
A highly experienced senior mediator will chair any public meetings, making sure there is an equal and balanced agenda. The mediator will keep the meetings calm, clarifying the positions of both sides. They will give equal uninterrupted time to the objectors and the applicants with the focus on helping everyone calmly and effectively explain their concerns and needs. This will make the meetings fair, informative, useful and create a better understanding of the requirements and merits of both arguments.
The mediator will highlight the points on which the opposing parties agree, draft an agreement of understanding and focus the parties on finding solutions.
"When people find the solutions themselves, feel listened to and respected and an agreement has been reached voluntarily then its most likely that all parties will leave a mediated meeting with the feeling of relief and satisfaction."
Please click onto the link below for the excellent and easy to understand guide to engaging with communities for public consultation and the use of commercial mediators .
The following article is an extract from the web site www.rtpi.org.uk
Good Practice Guide to public engagement in development schemes found on the RTPI web site
"For developers of major infrastructure projects and the communities who will be affected, one of the biggest challenges is to ensure that public engagement is undertaken in a way which is meaningful, inclusive and brings benefits for all involved.
Good community engagement is about more than just ‘ticking a box’. If there is no real commitment, all the key decisions have been made, not enough time is allowed or there are insufficient resources to engage properly, it is likely that at best little will be achieved and at worst, the exercise may add to the frustrations of a community increasing the risk of objections. If the consultation is inadequate, the IPC may decline to accept the subsequent application.
There is no ‘perfect recipe’ for good community engagement. Consultation is not about selling a scheme, it is about working with local people to understand how it can be designed to limit the impact on the local area. Every proposal and every community will be different. However based upon the experience of Planning Aid, it is possible to identify some key ingredients which can be used to support a positive and beneficial process:
Start with questions – not answers!
Understand the area, its history and what else is happening around and about Develop links with key groups and individuals who can assist and advise on what matters in the area.
Focus on what people care about – this will help motivate and engage them.
Ensure that information provided is clear, accessible and sufficient to tell people what they want to know.
Be clear about what is fixed and what is ‘up for debate’.
Establish an ‘open dialogue’. Where people have given their time to respond to the consultation, acknowledge this by providing a considered response.
Think about the known community groups – how representative are they and how can you reach out to secure a more balanced involvement?
Use different approaches for different people and groups and don’t be afraid to be innovative in your efforts to reach out to those who would not normally get involved.
Monitor who gets involved and who does not – the try to find a way to include those who have not been heard.
Be realistic about how long consultation takes – a rushed process is often a longer process."