What we did

We started by creating an engagement plan and a range of materials to explain the countryside park project in user-friendly terms. We then delivered seven months of consultation activity comprising:

1. A series of in-depth workshops – to explore the views, concerns and aspirations of relevant groups from residents to businesses, landowners, young people, sports groups, arts clubs & disability forums

2. Public exhibitions – to reach a wide range of people in busy community venues from shopping malls to leisure centres & village halls

3. Questionnaires – to collect views from anyone who wished to express them in community outlets including libraries, information centres, dentist & doctors’ surgeries and, of course, online

4. Media exposure – keeping the local and regional media closely involved throughout to maximise community awareness and encourage participation

5. Feedback Event – held after the main listening exercise, to explain proposals to take the community’s ideas forward and hear further reactions before finalising the plans

We followed this activity with a detailed report summarising the activity we’d undertaken and the themes of all the views, ideas and concerns raised.

The results

Our engagement exercise provided an extremely clear picture of the community’s views for the development team to consider in planning the countryside park.

It demonstrated support for the project from 76% of local people overall – 97% in some areas.

The exercise showed most people regarded nature conservation as the park’s most important purpose. It revealed the most popular activities amongst the over 30s were wildlife watching (cited by 80%) and walking (63%), while young people wanted sports and play facilities. Cycling, riding and water activities were the most popular sports people wanted to see.

It also highlighted concerns – such as the impact on the tranquility of nearby villages – which the development team was able to address through changes to the proposals.

Throughout the process, the community was kept informed via 33 pieces of positive media coverage including a six-minute slot on ITV news.

The Countryside Park is now being developed, including proposals for the Combe Valley Sports Village scheme (pictured below) which, it goes ahead, will be the largest sports-related development the area will have ever seen.

Award

We’re proud that our project won a national Excellence in Local Government award for Best UK Consultation.

The client’s view 

“TK Associates ran a first-class consultation for us and I’d strongly recommend them to anyone looking for a highly professional communications firm.

Their seven-month exercise was designed to underpin our development of Combe Valley Countryside Park and their work went on to win a national award.

The team was efficient, responsive, enthusiastic and quality-focused. All members displayed a knowledgeable approach and stayed keenly aware of the project’s objectives. They were proactive and demonstrated excellent professionalism throughout.

The consultation activity amongst young people, which is usually especially challenging, was particularly effective and fun for all involved. Of great importance was our excellent working relationship throughout the project and the quality of the feedback given to consultees.

The exercise gave everyone the opportunity to get involved and demonstrated the public’s overwhelming enthusiasm for our project. In short, this was excellent work from TK Associates.”

Peter Mead, Project Manager, Combe Valley Countryside Park Project