People often tell us it’s helpful to see real-world examples of how others are using our apps to engage and consult the public. So we were delighted to receive this ‘at the coalface’ report from one of our clients – Forestry Commission – recently. (Not least because it chimes with our particular enthusiasm for activities that really get into the nuts-and-bolts of local decision-making: asking people immediately affected by decisions how they want to see them play out).

The Forestry Commission Management Training Centre at Coleford

The Forestry Commission Management Training Centre at Coleford

I’ll let Hayley Clayton tell the story herself. She’s a Community Ranger with Forestry Commission, stationed at Dean Forest Park. Just one quick bit of context: Forestry Commission bought a single Dialogue App licence for the whole national organisation. Because it comes with unlimited discussions, much smaller, local branches (ha!) are able to use the app whenever they want without having to worry about infeasible costs – just the way it should be.

Anyway, here’s Hayley’s report:

What is the future for the Management Training Centre (MTC) building in Coleford, Forest of Dean?

The Management Training Centre was vacated in 2012 when the Learning and Development team were relocated to Cannock Chase. After this the building was left vacant for sometime whilst decisions were discussed as to the use of the building. I was asked to run a discussion with the local residents surrounding the building, particularly as it is situated at the bottom of a cul-de-sac.

I was told about the Dialogue App and decided that this would provide a platform to discuss the use of the building. Usually any discussion with the local community comes via posters asking people to drop into the office or contact the Forestry Commission.

It was decided to use the Dialogue App over a three week period from mid July until the first week of August. I promoted the discussion using posters around the building itself and an A5 leaflet drop to approximately fifty residents in the immediate area.

The building had been empty for just over a year when we began this process, the residents voiced concerns over the amount of traffic different uses of the building would produce, ideas for what sort of use for the building and even re-developing the whole site to residential. There was a good response to the discussion, providing good information.

The three week discussion produced a variety of ideas and concerns that provided information to aid in the decision as to what would be the use of the building. We could make a more informed decision that took in to account the feelings and concerns of the local residents. The Estates team could then move forward with working through the planning consent to change the use of building to enable a lease to be advertised.

The end result of using the Dialogue App for making the decision regarding this building has been instrumental, the building has now been advertised and is about to be leased to a nursery group. This will be in keeping with the feelings and concerns of the residents that were voiced during the discussion.

I would definitely recommend Dialogue App to other organisations and for projects that require discussion with the local community.

So there you go – hope that’s helpful. Thanks to Hayley for sharing! If you’ve got a similar example of how Budget Simulator, Citizen Space or Dialogue App has helped you connect your audience with decision-making, we’d love to hear it.

And if you’d like to see some more examples of how people are using our apps, the Citizen Space aggregator is a near-endless source of thousands of consultations being run on the platform right now by organisations all over the world. Enjoy!