News  |  Posted April 14, 2021

Community Engagement Goes Digital

PAS has been running SP=EED Verification, an established two-part community engagement skills programme, since 2014.

It is currently taking place online and looks at digital as well as traditional engagement. It represents excellent CPD for planners and other practitioners who specialise in community engagement or want to develop their skills and knowledge.

Previous participants have come from local authorities, community planning partnerships, planning consultancies, the renewables and energy sectors, communications agencies, academia and 3rd sector organisations. A wide range of employers have supported staff members to attend as part of their CPD programme.

The next date of our community engagement skills development programme is coming up on Thursday 29th April. For further information and how to book a place, please click here. If you have any questions, please email

Read below about the thoughts and experience of a participant who recently completed Part 2 SP=EED Verification.

Alastair Stewart of Orbit Communications:

Learning with SP=EED and PAS 

“I elected to undertake SP=EED Verification with PAS as it was important to me personally to receive a formal verification consolidating my experiences from the last year of adapting to producing online engagement programmes. Although I had developed and was pushing the use of consultation exercises, I knew it would be professionally and reputationally beneficial to receive formal recognition.

Part 1 was an effective and collaborative session held on Zoom allowing me to reflect on the successes and challenges of the last year. More importantly, it allowed me new perspectives and reflections on other participants’ experiences and how to better our own digital offering.

Part 2 was an easy decision made quickly after the success of Part 1. The PAS team was very generous with their time and in their discussions. As an exercise, it was constructive to consider formal routes to produce better consultations, particularly in the current climate.

I would thoroughly recommend it, both for the PAS team’s insight and knowledge and for the professional accreditation, which has boosted my confidence in offering consultation solutions to clients.”

Alastair’s further reflections on online engagement during the pandemic:

“Orbit Communications has delivered over 35 web-based planning consultations over the last 12 months. The numbers are fascinating with hugely increased participation compared to traditional events taking place in town/village hall venues – and heavily increased participation from the under 45 age group. Over 70% of traffic has been coming from mobile devices, suggesting that a QR code-equipped flyer is an effective reminder for people.

Not only does the community have more time to examine proposals and leave feedback, but there are also lasting channels of communication. Demographic participation has widened, and it is in all parties’ interest to speak to one another. Developers can refresh a website with additional information at important project milestones.

However the planning process evolves in the months and years ahead, the lessons of COVID-19 should be cherished. Digital engagement has been a complete success for communities and developers alike.“

For further information and how to book a place, please click here. If you have any questions, please email