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Digital options

We have collated a number of examples of how applicants and planning authorities have been taking advantage of a wide range of digital tools. We hope it inspires you for your own consultations with the public. 

This diagram illustrates the different digital options available, and if they meet the Scottish Government's planning guidance on pre-application consultations for public events

The expanded definitions for the six criteria in the left column of the diagram are:

  • Publicly accessible - Information to be hosted at a central, free, publicly accessible web location
  • Content sharing - Share details, location and images of development plans
  • How to engage - Provide instructions on how people can engage
  • Live and interactive - Scheduled live and interactive web-based consultation
  • No sign-up - Does not require a person to sign up for an account to comment
  • Respond to Feedback - Allows applicants to respond to feedback

Each option is covered in more detail below.


Dedicated website

Creating a website is a great way to share information with people. It is also flexible so that tools for consultation can be taken advantage of.

Benefits

  • Information is hosted at a central, free, publicly accessible web location.
  • Share details, location and images of development plans.
  • Provide instructions on how people can engage.
  • Does not require to sign up for an account to comment.
  • Allows applicants to respond to feedback.

Things to note

  • Scheduled live and interactive web-based consultation possible with live-chat plugins or links to other tools like video conferencing.

Social media

Posting on social media to promote your development or project can ensure a wide variety of people are getting involved.

Benefits

  • Share details, location and images of development plans.
  • Provide instructions on how people can engage.
  • Allows applicants to respond to feedback.

Things to note

  • Not everyone uses social media so may not be able to access your plans.
  • Some social networks allow you to host live events which is a great way of getting feedback and fielding questions but this may require people to have an account to take part.

Shared document

A simple solution of saving consultation boards in the cloud and sharing a link widely can work for more basic developments. 

Benefits

  • Share details, location and images of development plans.
  • Provide instructions on how people can engage.
  • Does not require to sign up for an account to comment.

Things to note

  • Because the documents shared are likely PDFs this can make them inaccessible or difficult to read for some people. 
  • Having the documents saved in a folder in the cloud means they are difficult to find. 
  • A static PDF document won't allow for people to leave comments interactively so will need to have clear instructions on how people can engage.

Video

Creating a video walkthrough of a development can make it engaging to watch and easy to share widely.  

Benefits

  • Share details, location and images of development plans.
  • Provide instructions on how people can engage.
  • Does not require to sign up for an account to comment.
  • Allows applicants to respond to feedback (via follow up videos)

Things to note

  • As part of the video you will need to let me people know how they can comment or ask questions. Replies to their comments and questions could be prepared in a follow-up video.

Video conference

Live video conference is growing in popularity and offers a great way to share information and host a live Q+A.

Benefits

  • Present details, location and images of development plans.
  • Provide instructions on how people can engage.
  • Does not require to sign up for an account to comment.
  • Allows applicants to respond to feedback.

Things to note

  • Video conferences only exist while they are live (unless you record and share later) so you will still require information to be hosted elsewhere. 
  • You will need to be extra cautious about who has access to video conferences to prevent 'Zoombombing'.

Consultation tools

A host of dedicated consultation tools exist and can provide excellent full packages to share information, consult and analysis feedback. 

Benefits

  • Information is hosted at a central, free, publicly accessible web location.
  • Share details, location and images of development plans.
  • Provide instructions on how people can engage.
  • Does not require to sign up for an account to comment.

Things to note

  • A scheduled live element will still be required. 

Last Updated: 29 Jul 2020