Public consultations are ways to ask for input and feedback from the general public. As your construction project influences the general public every day, public consultations are a useful tool to gain insight into their attitude towards it.
Public consultation can be done in person, but also by sending out questionnaires or starting a discussion on SitePodium. It can concern small matters, like simple opinion polls but also large problems such as temporary road closures and power cut-offs.
With public consultation you build trust; trust between you as a building company and all the stakeholders around. And when you build trust, you automatically receive fewer complaints and more collaboration.
Let us have a look into how public consultation can benefit your construction project and how it helps you build trust with the general public; your most demanding stakeholder.
What is public consultation in construction projects?
Public consultation in construction projects is asking for the opinion of your external stakeholders. Years ago, building projects simply took place, including the public no more than necessary. Nuisance was something they would just have to put up with, though building companies were making an effort to keep it as low as possible.
Nowadays times have changed and external stakeholders are getting more and more informed and involved into building projects. And when they are not, they have started to complain. This is encouraged and supported by independent initiatives like the Considerate Constructors’ Scheme. Public consultation should therefore be an important part of your stakeholder engagement plan.
What is public consultation in construction projects? This is best explained by a few examples:
- Town hall meetings
- Visits to schools and local (sports) clubs
- Handing out a questionnaire
- Online poll
- Holding interviews
- A visitors’ lounge
- A stall at the square
Why is public consultation important?
By using public consultation, you minimise the gap between you, the building company, and the general public living around it.
By giving your external stakeholders a say in the decision making, you build trust and create a dialogue between your building project and those affected by it.
How does this benefit your construction project? These are just a few examples of what public consultation can do for your building site and company.
1. Reduce complaints
By involving the public into the decision making, you will greatly reduce the number of complaints you receive. For example, you need to shut off the water supply to a block of apartments for a limited amount of time. If you just announce this, without consulting the public, you might get complaints about timing, duration, the way it was communicated, etcetera. Worst case scenario, these complaints result in legal procedures and bad press. Naturally, this is what you want to avoid.
Organise a poll on SitePodium where you offer subscribers a number of optional time slots for the water to be cut off. The residents can vote for the slot that suit them best. The slots that was best for the majority, will be the one you choose.
This way, you will receive fewer complaints. You gave the general public a say by organising a fair and democratic poll. That way the majority of affected stakeholders get the timeslot that suits them most. The ‘losers’ are realistic enough to know that you cannot please everyone.
Did you know…
That in SitePodium you can group your subscribers? That way you can send the poll only to the residents living at the addresses affected by the cut-off.
2. Gain valuable insights
Another benefit of public consultation is that you get valuable insights into what the local residents think and want. Once you know what the general opinion is about your project, you can act accordingly. Ask the general public for their opinion and if it turns out they are unhappy, you organise a few extra townhall meetings or an open office for questions and discussions. If they are happy about what you are doing, you can continue as you are or even take it up a notch. Public consultation gives you a means to anticipate ahead and act on the feelings and opinions of the public before it is too late.
The public might also have ideas that you never thought of. In our book “Happy Neighbours” we speak about initiatives that you can undertake to improve community engagement. By public consultation you can find out what it is that the public actually wants. That saves you having to guess what would make them happy.
For example, you have to cut down trees to widen a road. This is typically met with a lot of resistance from the residents around. You want to do something with the wood, to show the community the trees were not removed in vain and get a second life. Your idea is to make wooden benches from the trees you felled and place them around the area as a remembrance. After speaking to the local residents, you actually find out that they would prefer them to be used for a natural playground.
3. Public consultation gives your company a boost
Finally, public consultation during your construction project boosts the image of your company. Have a look at these examples:
- The local residents and businesses will be positive about what you did and they will remember your name even after you left. Word of mouth is still a very powerful marketing tool.
- Your previous public consultation initiatives are an ideal way to boost your sales pitches. With SitePodium’s reporting section you can also make the results you booked visible to future clients through reports and graphs.
- Your employees will be happy to work for you and will be proud to be part of such a democratic, fair and engaging company. This is important, as they are often the ones at the receiving end.
Public consultation with SitePodium
SitePodium is the ideal platform to support and channel your public consultation endeavours. Get your local residents to subscribe and you can contact them all at the same time. Raise a poll, announce an event and organise a town hall meeting all through one handy app.
Apart from stakeholder engagement and public consultation, you can also view and collect data which makes the results of your efforts visible. Place this in a graph or report for you to use for future reference and pitches for tender.
SitePodium is an adaptable app, which can be set up exactly as you need it. It bridges the gap between local communities and construction companies. Get more information about SitePodium here or contact us to brainstorm about your ideas.