Informing the Local Plan for one of England’s most historic market towns.
Discover how PlaceBuilder was used to broaden demographic reach, increase conversions and inform the Local Plan for the market town of Epsom.
Although Epsom and Ewell Borough Council had had some success in previous, traditional consultations, the council were keen to take advantage of technology to assess local opinion to guide the overall vision for their local masterplan. Additionally, the Council wanted to gauge public sentiment on the development prospects for 4 key sites within the town.
Our goal was to support Epsom council to explore the ideas laid out in the Masterplan's key development opportunity areas with a diverse, representative sample of the local population. Our aim was to ensure the plan, informed by robust evidence and community-wide engagement, would provide a long-term vision of what Epsom could look like by 2040 and beyond.
As part of the consultation process, the Council had defined 4 key opportunity areas, and our goal was to support them in providing valuable community feedback ahead of progressing development plans in these areas.
Finally, the council were keen to ensure that, unlike some of their previous consultations, a diverse demographic split, proportionate to ONS data for the local area was achieved, with each ward in Epsom represented.
Our main KPI was obtaining a minimum of 1,000 total unique responses.
To ensure these complex objectives were met, our solution was to build a three part consultation, divided into a poll, a map and an ‘opportunity’ section:
The poll section offered local residents the opportunity to comment on their day-to-day reasons for visiting Epsom, their thoughts on the overall appeal of the town centre and gauge their support for potential future developments in the town.
The opportunity section focussed on the four “Opportunity Areas” identified by the council, which could be redeveloped or enhanced to help realise the council’s ambition for the town centre. Consultees were presented with detailed 3D maps, presenting each of the opportunity areas in turn, before being invited to answer a series of simple but engaging Likert-style questions about each topic.
The Map section offered residents the opportunity to have their say on the matters that were important to them in their local area, using our simple feature which allows users to drop a pin in the map before leaving their comments in an open text format.
Here’s what we found!
Whilst the majority of Epsoms respondents seemed reluctant to envisage more developments such as car parks, taller buildings and student housing, there was clearly strong support for improving the local environment. 86.3% of those consulted agreed there should be more trees, more recycling opportunities (67.7%), and more zero-carbon buildings (54.2%). Inclusivity also struck a chord with local residents, with over 70% agreeing “the town centre is an inclusive place designed for all people”.
Of the 4 opportunity sites identified, the council were able to extract valuable data about citizens’ preferences for all aspects of development within these areas, with retaining parking, developing the shopping and dining scene and improving access for cyclists, all proving popular in each instance.
Perhaps most importantly of all the council was able to identify strong local support for developing brownfield land at the Southern Gas Network site, with 62.2% being in favour.
"The engagement rate was fantastic, and we have tangible results. The dashboard was very useful to keep track of how things were going."
Harry Burchill, Epsom & Ewell Council
1979 unique respondents took part in the council’s consultation (nearly 3% of the total population), nearly doubling our original KPI, and getting over 4 times as many responses as previous consultations run by the council.
A broad demographic was also achieved, with over 9% of people identifying as having “health conditions or illnesses that reduced their ability to carry out day-to-day activities”, and 9% of respondents identifying as non-white, roughly proportionate to local ONS data for the area.
More than half, 57%, of respondents also said that they had never taken part in a previous planning consultation, meaning we successfully engaged a significant number of local people for the first time in this important area for the council..
Finally, using our unique mapping features in PlaceBuilders analytics, the council were able to clearly identify strong response numbers from across the various wards in the Epsom and Ewell district, showing that each section of the community had been represented in the consultation process.
After a successful 6-week consultation, the council carefully reviewed the invaluable data provided by PlaceBuilder to revise the options for the town. These options were included in the Draft Local Plan consultation for 2023. We’re delighted to see the community feedback firmly embedded in the local planning process.