Commonplace's community engagement in Wales
By David Janner-Klausner | Fri, Sep 23, 2022
2 min read
Wales has taken to Commonplace – from Anglesey and Swansea to Wrexham and Ceredigion. Whether in Welsh or in English, tens of thousands of Wales’s residents are using engagement websites to help shape the places where they live, study, work and play.
Read the Welsh Language version
Read on to discover how the people of Wales have been using digital engagement tools to create positive change in a variety of different and crucial ways.
Improving Active Travel across Wales
Nowhere can this be seen better than with the Welsh Government’s flagship Active Travel Programme. From 2020, Commonplace has continued to support this programme with engagement websites for 20 out of Wales’s 22 local authorities. The national project has moved from a local discussion of ideas, hopes and issues to the presentation of specific solutions that arose from the first round of Commonplace conversations. Wales passed ground-breaking Active Travel legislation in 2013 and every Commonplace in this project has helped create detailed local pictures of what applying the legislation’s direction can mean.
These Active Travel community engagement websites demonstrate how online engagement evolves with the progress of the local programme. For example, Cardiff City Council started its Commonplace journey in 2020 with a crowdsourcing map where people identified local issues relating to active travel. This was followed in Summer 2021 by using a second Commonplace engagement website to consult on specific route improvements in 32 locations. The consultation was created to fulfill the Council’s duties under the 2013 Active Travel Wales Act. The Council asked its residents and visitors to help confirm:
- Have we identified the correct routes for improvement (proposed routes)?
- Are we correct in our assessment of routes that already meet the agreed standards (existing routes)?
- Have we identified all the appropriate new routes?
- Are the proposals in the schedule of schemes appropriate for developing the proposed routes?
The two linked consultations brought in over 20,000 responses and nearly 1,200 people have subscribed to receive project updates.
Vale of Glamorgan follows a similar progression, starting with a Commonplace map (that received 4,640 contributions) and then a second map to obtain feedback on its proposed walking and cycling route network. The Council then consulted on nine specific routes and is now consulting in-depth on two further routes using separate Commonplace - in Sully and around Cowbridge.
Caerphilly was another Council using Commonplace for active travel work and is now using Commonplace again, to engage the public in the development of its public transport interchange.
Newport offers an example of using Commonplace for a different public realm concern - a consultation concerning local rules for walking dogs (a proposed Public Space Protection Order) which has received over 600 contributions.
Continued community engagement in Wales
Commonplace’s community engagement in Wales is continuing to grow well beyond simply travel engagements.
We have worked with the innovative Cogitamus consultancy on the redesign of Cardiff Central Station and previously on a regional transport consultation for South East Wales. Sustrans Cymru is a partner for the Active Travel projects alongside the Welsh Government and the local authorities.
Responding to Covid we have worked with the Welsh Government to map demand for shared working spaces and new work patterns across the country. In west Anglesey, we have worked with a partnership including Low Carbon to engage the public in plans for a solar energy plant - Parc Solar Traffwll.
Commonplace is not only for local government - we work with private developers, travel operators and community groups, to name a few additional user types.
In each location where Commonplace works, we invite residents to opt to receive notifications of new Commonplaces where they live. This means that we not only bring our technology but also a communal presence to kick-start engagement. Our in-platform communication tools and available paid social media campaign options to ensure that you can maximise the reach of your engagement and provide rapid feedback to residents.
Try us on your next public engagement or consultation!
David Janner-Klausner: David is Co-founder of Commonplace (and holds an MSc from the Centre for Alternative Technology in Machnlleth)
Emma Megaughin: Emma is the Regional Manager for Scotland and Wales (and has 15 years experience leading community consultation and political engagement programmes)