Engaging communities in decisions relating to land: guidance

This document provides guidance on the benefits of, and ways of going about, engaging with communities about decisions relating to land.

Diagram B: How to Engage



How to engage

Good Neighbour

Most day-to-day decisions relating to land where the impact on the local community is small or non-existent.

Most routine urban and rural land management activities including day-to-day farming, forestry, estate management and business activities, when the activity is carried out with reasonable consideration. When there is little impact on the community, there is no need to engage. However, regular contact is encouraged to help to prevent problems arising.
Informal Engagement

Decisions which can lead to moderately significant impacts on the local community.

This includes:

  • short-term but disruptive activities
  • activities carried out in irregular circumstances
  • changes to regular activities

Decisions about:

  • activities which disrupt transport or business activities
  • activities causing significant light, sound or smell pollution
  • activities carried out at unusual times, or causing more disruption than usual
  • other disruptive activities in both the urban and rural environments

Informal engagement can include:

  • sending a letter or an email
  • a notice on a community notice board
  • posting on social media
  • a phone call
  • visiting in person
  • putting up a sign

Regular communication, even when no very significant decisions are being undertaken, can help to prevent problems arising, and build good neighbourhood relationships.

Formal Engagement

Decisions which may significantly impact on the social, economic or cultural development of a community, access to a good quality environment, and community viability.

This includes:

  • long-term or permanent changes with significant impact
  • long-term disruptive activities
  • activities which impact significantly on the local economy, society and culture, or environment
  • decisions likely to alter the local population level or structure, including through intergenerational impact

Decisions about:

  • significant long-term changes to land use, for instance changes between agricultural land, forestry, nature reserves, green spaces, industry, housing, regeneration and development
  • estate management, where a significant proportion of land in a community is controlled by one party
  • a business or service that significantly contributes to local employment or provides vital services
  • decisions impacting on the viability of vital local institutions such as schools, doctors’ surgeries, sports centres and cultural centres

Engagement about significant decisions is characterised by being planned and should include feedback to the community. Formal methods of engagement include:

  • publishing a written consultation or survey
  • holding local meeting(s)
  • holding site visit(s)
  • carrying out workshop(s), perhaps with a facilitator
  • collaborating with the community to co-design a project
Once formal engagement is carried out, there should be feedback to the community on the decision taken and the reasons for it. The references section gives links to further guidance on different ways of involving communities in decision making.


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