This consultation to provide extensive community input into the Village Plan for Waterfoot was initiated as primary research. Consultation began at the earliest possible stage, with just a map, before any planning or design work had occurred. A Public Meeting was organised by the Council to commence the consultation and a series of such meetings ensued. People attending the public meetings were disappointed by previous tourism and regeneration initiatives; part of the legacy was a derelict toilet block.
Local people are up to date about their places and know them like nobody else. Early discussions identified the main assets and issues in the village and surrounding area which could be assisted by the project. As well as problems, people described local expertise and involvement in innovative techniques of village management (‘Beach Watch’ for example) and had already implemented these with the cooperation of the Council. The participants made it clear from the beginning that they wanted to take a holistic approach and did not want to break down into focus groups or to deal separately with issues.
This unusually clear direction has stood the community in good stead. Keeping the village plan up to date with the inclusion of a village handbook as a record of activity has allowed the local community to benefit from further regeneration initiatives under different funding regimes. The Group registered as a Company Limited by Guarantee which enables it as a fully constituted body to lead when required on major funding and planning initiatives.
Beach Watch continues and the community won a Tidy NI Coastal Care Award in 2011.