- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 28 Jun 2019
In the general sense, ‘community engagement’ is the act of communicating with a local or regional community, irrespective of whether the entity doing the communicating is an individual, a company or a government agency.
Specifically, in the construction industry, community engagement is how construction companies try to assuage local communities over the benefits that they or society in general will see when a project is finally completed. This is particularly important for large infrastructure projects of long duration that are known to cost millions and over which the locals may have considerable misgivings. In these instances, getting out into the local community and talking and listening to the people is one of the most important things companies can do to build and maintain their reputations.
By its very nature, construction is a disruptive process with potentially devastating impacts on communities – if not handled correctly. Throughout the construction period, the local community may have to endure months, possibly years of:
- Construction continuing well into the evening
- Construction noise
- Dust and dirt
- Local congestion
- Daily, continual site deliveries
- Dirty, muddy roads
- A feeling of unease and frustration
Community engagement should involve contractors and consultants (architects, engineers, surveyors, sub-contractors etc) engaging the community to ensure construction impacts are minimised and to cause the least disruption and offence. This may be achieved by:
- Engagement – beginning, ideally, even before work starts on site. This may get the locals on board at an early stage before any offence is taken, making the subsequent process a lot easier.
- Regularly communicating the progress of the project though regular communications including newsletters, open meetings, site tours, notices and site cameras.
- Set-up ‘hands-on’ workshops for local people to provide better engagement.
- Set-up an exhibition that shows the project in full to help people see the ‘bigger’ picture.
- Providing opportunities for feedback though meetings etc.
- Provide an on-line presence in the form of a dedicated website to provide project information and regular updates.
- Spending in and supporting the local community
- Employing people local to the project
- Working with local schools and colleges e.g by giving talks, bringing kids to site, providing work experience opportunities, etc
- Showing courtesy throughout
The advent of corporate social responsibility has seen many contractors adopt a more enlightened approach to the communities in which they build. In the UK, this has been facilitated by the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) which aims to improve the image of the construction industry by striving to promote and achieve best practice. To achieve this, the CCS Code comprises five parts as follows:
- Care about appearance – ensuring sites appear professional and well managed;
- Respect the community – constructors to give utmost consideration to their impact on neighbours and the public;
- Protect the environment – constructors should protect and enhance the environment;
- Secure everyone’s safety – attain the highest levels of safety performance, and
- Value their workforce – providing a supportive and caring working environment.
Contractors may also adopt the principles of LM3 (the Local Multiplier 3) which is a simple way of measuring how their spending benefits the community. An on-line tool can be used for this purpose. The principle of LM3 is that the more money that is spent, the more income is generated for local people; it is therefore more likely they will have a greater appreciation of the project.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
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- Construction management statement.
- Localism Act.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Neighbourhood planning.
- Non-statutory consultees.
- Overview of the road development process.
- Planning objection.
- Penfold review.
- Planning permission.
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- Statutory authorities.
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- Statement of community involvement.
- Statutory planning notice.
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