Nottingham’s Trent Basin Waterside engagement wins national Planning Award

Led by Deetu, part of the wider BWB Group, the Trent Basin Waterside engagement exercise wins national planning award for Stakeholder Engagement in Planning.

The engagement exercise commissioned by Trent Basin developer, Blueprint, provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the urban regeneration of Nottingham’s waterside. This led to a revolutionary, digital-first stakeholder engagement exercise that increased meaningful participation by 1500% with an overall approval rating of 94%. Josh Dickerson, Associate at Deetu and Engagement Project Lead, said:

Myself and the team at Deetu are thrilled to have won this award. The project provided us with the opportunity to put in practice the art of the possible when it comes to exemplar digitally-led engagement. I want to thank everyone that contributed to the consultation; it was great to see such enthusiasm in creating a place informed by so many views, especially during such testing times.

Rather than being constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable developer Blueprint took the opportunity to rethink the traditional engagement methodology, providing a truly inclusive, anytime, and anywhere consultation using real community evidence to influence its design. Trent Basin will be the heart of this new community, so being innovatively designed to meet the current and future communities’ needs was crucial.

It was vital to gain a comprehensive understanding of the local community to better engage with them. The use of innovative, interactive tools, combined with powerful data analytics, and an emphasis on youth-friendly content ensured that a remarkably diverse audience, including those seldom heard, was consulted during a multi-stage, irrefutably transparent engagement campaign.

At the core of their engagement strategy was a series of digital tools adapted to reflect each specific audience’s required language complexity and technical understanding. A virtual consultation room and drop-in sessions complemented the extensive online guided masterplan walkthrough, which used interactive state of the art visuals, CGIs, audio commentary and fly-through 360° digital flows provided by architects Proctor and Matthews.

Feedback throughout the engagement not only supported the sustainable principles of the environmentally led design. It pushed for more green space around the basin, more planting in the courtyards and more people-friendly zones. By undertaking continuous engagement throughout the design process, the team amended the masterplan based on real community-sourced evidence. Jim Rae, Senior Principal Planning Officer – Nottingham City Council added:

This was a first for us. The interactive tools offered a constructive way to gain an understanding of the scheme. It not only saved us time, but gave us a lot more information to determine our views than a typical application. We hope that others would use this approach.

Blueprint Chief Executive Samantha Veal said:

Deetu and Blueprint are delighted to receive this award. Blueprint believes that effective community engagement is absolutely fundamental to successful placemaking. Working with Deetu has made that possible. We’d also like to thank the people of Nottingham whose invaluable feedback will mean that Trent Basin is a successful place for generations to come.

From the beginning, this engagement was not just about gathering one-way feedback or even holding a two-way dialogue. It was about creating authentic, multi-faceted conversations in the community.

Creating a sense of social wellbeing was key within this defiantly transparent engagement. It wasn’t just a case of ticking a box of support; it was about ensuring people knew that their opinions would genuinely make a difference to the future of their community.