A new ComRes poll recently presented findings that public attitudes towards development are more pro than anti across all ages, social classes, and political persuasions, and in every region except the South-East. We ask if this shift in opinion matches with a developers experience during the planning process?

Many developers will say that this shift in public attitude is far from the reality when the plans are exhibited, as nearly every development proposal will attract some form of objection. It creates a strange situation where there is an outcry to build more homes, yet councils and communities mount a war against those with the skill and experience to build them.

Local authority members may also dispute these findings, especially at a time when they are desperately pushing through local plans, whilst attempting to avoid rebellion in the council chambers, and have been quick to pounce on news from the ONS’ latest publication of the 2016-based household projections, which some members see as an olive branch of political relief for some, albeit this is likely to be short-lived.

Fareham and Bracknell Forest are two authorities which were quick off the mark in revising their five-year housing land supply position, even before the new methodology has been agreed, and there are members in Guildford who have also sought to use the new figures to call for a reduction in housing numbers, in attempt to influence public opinion that they’re responding to the issues of over-development and to address their own internal fear of a political mortality during next year’s elections.

The public, politicians, community groups and historians rush to arms the moment a telephone call is placed to discuss ‘an exciting new opportunity’ or indeed a site notice going up. This all suggests that public opinion towards development remains very much anti. But is this really the case?

We believe that public opinion is something which can be cultivated, rather than something that is assumed, and by understanding opinions on specific matters of interest, as opposed to asking about ‘development’ will result in strong dialogue and improved outcomes.

If developers want to see a real shift in attitudes towards housebuilding, then public opinion needs to be carefully cultivated through a commitment to engage, and a real understanding of local communities.

How can TFA help?

Our team can assist you with your promotion, identify opportunities to engage and win support. We have the experience and knowledge of helping to cultivate public opinion and generate endorsements for developments.