Why I work for a company like Grasshopper
I really do believe we need to build more homes alongside the facilities and services to support them. Our population is changing – people are living longer, and they have different needs alongside a whole range of other social factors. It is easy when you are sitting in your own house to forget that millions of people in the UK simply don’t have the safety and security of a place to call home.
When people ask me what I do, I usually say that I help developers to involve local communities in planning. This almost always results in people responding: ‘that sounds tough’, or, ‘you must get a lot of people who aren’t happy’.
And that is true, I do spend a lot of time talking to people who aren’t supportive of proposed new development in their area – be it homes, new roads, shops or services. But for me, the important thing is that these people have taken the time to participate, to have their voice heard and to bring their thoughts and ideas. And when there are people willing to stand up and be counted, it is important we make sure they have the facts, understanding and opportunity to participate in the debate in an effective way.
I am proud of the work we do and motivated by how we do this better – how do we make access to planning more diverse, accessible and equal. What is the right language to use, what are the right questions to ask, who are the right people to be talking to?
It is not a simple world and it is never possible to respond to all feedback from consultation in the final plans. Feedback often includes a range of different opinions, but good developers, councils, RSLs and others will try and reflect feedback where and if they can. It can be relatively small things, – a better footpath connection, extra space for a local school, a new community room, that can actually make a real difference to a community.
My hope for the future is for children growing up today who are very aware of their surroundings, where recycling is normal and where they have eco clubs at school. They are already voicing their concerns over issues such as diversity, climate, animal welfare and other national issues. My hope is that as they grow their voice will be strong. They will have the security of a place to call home, in an area that they have shaped.
And, we must continue to have the difficult conversations. These aren’t always easy and will likely continue to result in talking to people who are not happy. But we must not shy away from talking about development. We need to discuss its impacts as well as the benefits so that everyone it will impact can understand the options before them.