5 ways a visualisation software can support public consultation in garden community planning

The appeal of garden communities has only increased following the pandemic where more people are embracing remote or flexible working lifestyles and heading for greener spaces. However, building garden communities comes with its own unique set of challenges, especially when it comes to public consultation.

Public consultation is a critical part of the process, and it is necessary to ensure that the community's views and ideas are taken into consideration. In this blog, we will discuss the challenges faced by the sector and how teams are overcoming them using visualisation software.

Paul Meadows, Head of Real Estate at Sensat, explores how a digital twin platform can help teams to streamline the public consultation process.

Challenges faced in the public consultation process

The garden community development process involves a series of consultations, discussions, and meetings with various stakeholders, including the public, local authorities, planning departments, environmental organisations and committees. The challenge is to ensure that all parties have a say in the decision-making process and that their views are taken into account. However, creating a totally transparent approach is far from simple. Plans and information are complex and can be difficult to convey in an understandable format which also exposes plans to be misunderstood. This can be detrimental to the approval process.

In many cases, local communities are not effectively engaged in the development process, leading to opposition, mistrust, and, ultimately, delays in the project and planning approvals which ultimately costs (lots) of money. One of the most significant hurdles with public consultations is that it can be challenging to visualise the final outcome of the project. Visualisation is critical to understand the impact of the proposed development on the surrounding area, including the environment, infrastructure, and social aspects.

It could be argued that in simple terms people just notice head the headline proposal of ‘ten thousand homes are being built where there is currently nature and fields’. However, the ability to show the true vision along with contextual visualisations of the green space elements of the proposed plans, the scenic habitats and the environmental considerations all help to reassure people with a view to reducing objections.

The consultation process can also be time-consuming and expensive. It will take many months and even years to engage with all the stakeholders, and this can lead to delays and rising costs. Today teams are leveraging new tools to engage a wide range of stakeholders.

Digital twin of garden community

Leveraging the power of visualisation

Visualisation has always been an important part of the public consultation process. Complex plans, held in specialist software needs to be translated into a format which is accessible and understandable.

Traditionally this has relied on plans being drawn up as viewpoints, modelled as scaled physical sites, poster board mock-up on easels or futuristic CGI-rendered videos to be created. These are all extremely time-consuming methods of visualising plans, and if plans change, models need to be rebuilt and plans re-drawn.

5 ways visualisation software can support public consultation

Visualisation software has emerged as a powerful tool for building garden communities. It enables teams to create 3D models of the proposed development and provide a more tangible, contextual representation of the final outcome. Visualisation software can help stakeholders to;

  1. Understand the impact of the proposed development on the surrounding area, including the environment, infrastructure, and social aspects. Viewing the site from their own perspective can help to dispel any misconceptions about the project.
  2. Can create virtual tours of the proposed development, allowing stakeholders to experience the proposed development as if it already exists. These can be interactive so that teams can navigate the future sites on their own accord, helping to engage stakeholders.
  3. By creating a visual representation of the proposed development, all stakeholders can provide feedback based on the same information. This makes it easier to identify areas of agreement and disagreement
  4. When there might be multiple options being considered, software can provide multiple options that stakeholders can explore to ensure a wider range of ideas and opinions (which option is the most environmental, the most cost-effective, and the most supported by local communities).
  5. The use of visualisation software can also reduce the time and cost of the consultation process. Teams can create virtual models quickly, and stakeholders can provide feedback remotely. It is no longer necessary to hold multiple physical meetings to gather feedback, which can save time and resources.

The future of public consultation

Building garden communities can be a challenge, especially when it comes to public consultation. The use of visualisation software has emerged as a powerful tool for overcoming these challenges. It can help stakeholders to understand the impact of a proposed development on the surrounding area, overcome the challenge of vocal minorities, and reduce the time and cost of the consultation process. Visualisation software can help to create a more transparent, collaborative, and inclusive development process that takes into account the views of all stakeholders.

Learn how Sensat’s Common Visualisation Software is being used on the Otterpool Park Garden Community project in the latest press release.

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