The Planning Inspectorate is the government body responsible for inspecting, approving or denying planning applications, as well as enforcing planning regulations, across the UK.

One thing the Planning Inspectorate makes very clear is the expectation of good-quality consultation when it comes to planning matters. Councils are expected to meaningfully involve local residents in the planning process. They must take the public’s views into account and demonstrate how local feedback has influenced final proposals.

Citizen Space is the platform of choice for planners all across the UK when it comes to engaging communities on planning matters. Here are a few ways Citizen Space supports planners in complying to regulations surrounding consultation and engagement.

Data not documents

Woman holding phone displaying a Citizen Space Geospatial activity on a mobile phone

Although most planning departments use digital platforms as part of their consultation process, planning consultation can be a very manual and document-heavy process. This causes issues with accessibility and the burden of time needed to respond to planning consultations. Citizen Space greatly reduces the need to rely on documents and PDFs – with Citizen Space Geospatial, exercises like Calls for Sites can be completed on an interactive map rather than having to print off a paper map, draw on it and scan/upload.

Images can be embedded within a survey, and other rich media embeds like inline document readers mean that respondents are provided with all the information they need at the point of response.

Nevertheless, sometimes attaching documents is necessary, particularly with exercises like Local Plans. Citizen Space enables supporting documentation to be attached to any activity, clearly visible from the overview page.

Find out more about Citizen Space Geospatial.


The Planning Inspectorate strongly encourages thorough feedback and clear indications of how citizens’ comments factor into the overall plan.

Citizen Space was designed to encourage and easily allow public bodies to feed back to citizens on their decisions. The ‘We Asked, You Said, We Did’ feature is linked in the header bar, so respondents can easily find concise summaries of what actions and decisions were made following an engagement activity. Additionally, when feedback is provided, the overview page of the initial activity gets updated, where you can leave more detailed feedback and supporting information about your decision.

Closing the loop and demonstrating citizens’ views have impact is an integral part of the democratic process and is one of the most important ways planners can build trust with local residents.

Response publishing

Sometimes it’s necessary to display resident submissions publicly. We encourage this as it increases accountability for a consulting organisation, and Citizen Space has a robust response publishing feature. Responses can be fully anonymised so nobody is sharing data they haven’t consented to. Published responses can be searched, filtered and sorted, so anyone can easily find what their fellow respondents have said.

[Response publishing] allowed us to decrease the time between our consultation closing and when the information could be made available to the public.

-Julie Clausen, Hamilton City Council, New Zealand

Hamilton City Council used Citizen Space for their 10-year plan and got 10x the response rates in half the time. Read the full interview with Julie Clausen.


Accessibility should always be a consideration when publishing planning consultations and activities. The Planning Inspectorate and the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) both stress that community needs must be taken into account – so anyone who wants to participate must be able to do so.

Accessibility has always been a central tenet of the way Citizen Space was and continues to be designed. It’s not just an afterthought: the platform is WCAG 2.1 compliant. Citizen Space Geospatial was designed with inclusivity in mind, so if a user isn’t able to interact with a map – for example, because they are visually impaired, or can’t use a mouse – they are still able to participate.

Additionally, the use of interactive mapping rather than long PDF documents encourages and increases participation as it reduces the amount of reading and confusing language a respondent needs to absorb before giving their views.

Read more about accessibility at Delib.

Non-linear surveys & skip logic

Chapter-based (non-linear) consultation example from Dublin City Council's Citizen Space site

It’s not uncommon for planners to need to ask different sets of questions for different groups of people: for example, stakeholders vs. the general public. Rather than asking people to skip over pages of questions that aren’t relevant to them, Citizen Space offers survey types that solve this problem: skip logic, or routing, which directs respondents to a particular set of questions based on one of their answers; and non-linear surveys, which group sets of questions into chapters at the start of the activity. This means respondents are only answering the questions they need to, saving everyone time.

Statutory obligations

Planners have legal obligations with certain aspects of the planning process. They need to prepare a Statement of Community Involvement (SCIs), which lays out their plans and processes for engaging communities in local planning matters. And planners have a statutory duty to engage on things like Local Plans.

Planners all across the UK use Citizen Space to consult on their Local Plans and SCIs because it’s the best platform for the job – it makes it easy to present complicated information in a clear way, it’s simple for citizens to navigate, and conveniently groups all an organisation’s activity in one place, so respondents don’t have to go hunting through a clunky website to take part.

Citizen Space encourages democratic involvement by providing features that help respondents navigate complex proposals and make it easy to review past consultations and their outcomes.

If you want to learn more about what Citizen Space can do for your organistion, book a free demo and we’ll walk you through it.