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Project Description

Development of the Greater Ballysillan Masterplan in North Belfast involved an extensive and varied process of community consultation and participation. 

A key objective behind initiating this DSD led plan was to coalesce several, largely deprived neighbourhoods that had become disconnected from one another over the years. Therefore a consultation strategy was required to bring the people of each neighbourhood together, enabling them to meaningfully contribute to a shared vision for the future of the greater area.

Setting up Structures

The project was structured in a manner to facilitate the input of many stakeholders. A Project Board comprised of representatives from several central and local government departments and agencies. A Community Engagement Group comprised of representatives from each neighbourhood area, as well as agencies working at community level. Planning and facilitation of the consultation process was undertaken by a consultant team led by The Paul Hogarth Company, who met with both groups on a regular basis.

Continuous Consultation

Consultation took place at all stages of the project. Stage 1 Information Gathering & Analysis involved Community Walkabouts where residents gave the consultation team a tour of their neighbourhood; schools workshops where young people openly discussed and recorded their thoughts and aspirations; and numerous stakeholder meetings with key administrative and community organisations.

Stage 2 Visioning involved a workshop with the Project Board and Community Engagement Group, plus participation in the Embrace Ballysillan Fun Day. Stage 3: Design & Masterplan involved an extensive process of public consultation on the draft masterplan. Leaflets about the project were delivered on two occasions to all 7,000 properties in the study area. ‘Drop In Sessions’ and workshops were held in 12 different locations (community centres, churches and schools), where information boards were displayed for a 12 week period. Information was also posted online and feedback given via a dedicated Facebook page and email address.

The Public Consultation period culminated in an outdoor Family Fun Day. This served to test and demonstrate the potential of an underused space which the plan proposed to be a public square. Even more importantly, it also sought to bring together people from each area in a shared celebration of hopes for the future. Finally, Stage 4 Implementation, where an Action Plan for Delivery was produced, was carried out through further workshops and meetings.

Learning Outcomes

  • Careful structuring of the administration of the project from the outset was key to successful delivery of its objectives.
  • A relatively short programme was conducive to maintaining a sense of momentum on the project. However, a decision was taken early in the project to extend the programme to allow for a more thorough process of public consultation to take place.
  • Employing a range of consultation techniques at a significant number of different locations around the study area enabled a large and diverse section of the population to contribute to shaping the plan.
  • Holding a Winter Family Fun Day in the middle of gale force winds and torrential rain is not without its challenges. However, as this event was only one of many, the impact of a lower than expected turnout was minimised.
  • Despite dealing with a number of sensitive issues with potential for controversy, feedback on the draft plan was generally positive. This is can largely be attributed to the process of continuous consultation and the input of the Community Engagement Group at regular intervals in development of the project.

Consultation Contact

The Paul Hogarth Company

James Hennessey
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
+44 (0) 28 9073 6690

Potter’s Quay
5 Ravenhill Road Belfast
Belfast, BT6 8DN