Community consultation in Trafford goes digital

Amey’s One Trafford Partnership - a collaboration between Amey and Trafford Council - launched an interactive web-based tool to continue engagement with local residents, businesses, community groups and stakeholders on the walking and cycling proposals for the Urmston Active Neighbourhood project.

What did we do?

In January 2020 Amey hosted an event which invited local people to attend and have their say on developing proposals for the project, to improve Urmston as a place to live, work and visit -  with the overarching aim to make it an easier place for people to get around on foot or by bike. Approximately 600 people attended the event, which kick-started the consultation and included the launch of a new engagement website, which was used to gather feedback from the community on the changes that they wanted in their local wards. Over 3,400 comments were received that have been analysed by the project team to create proposals for the scheme.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the project team were keen to progress the project and wanted to give the community a chance to feedback on the initial proposals.

Using virtual reality, a web-based room has been created to replicate what would be expected visually at an engagement event. The room can be accessed using a computer or an android phone and showcases consultation materials via pop-up banners, sound demonstrations, videos, maps, example drawings and much more.

What impact did this have?

The pioneering platform allows for feedback so public reaction can be captured and a chat function is also accessible which allows further engagement with the project team and local Ward Councillors who are on hand to discuss the proposals and answer any queries.

We believe this virtual room is integral to continued public engagement, with activity taking place through web chat sessions in place of face to face events, ensuring people have a chance to further engage with us before the design of the project continues.

In addition, we have engaged members of the public to make them project ambassadors, helping us to reach those people in the community who do not have access to computers or need help with digital platforms.

The Urmston Active Neighbourhood project is the largest walking and cycling scheme across Greater Manchester. The project team at One Trafford Partnership are hopeful that using similar platforms for the other schemes within the borough will provide a resilient solution for future consultation processes.

"It's fantastic to see high levels of engagement with this project and well done to Trafford Council for continuing to make every effort to work with residents during this lockdown period. Active Neighbourhoods can bring a wealth of benefits to communities, creating quieter and safer streets for play, walking and travelling by bike as well as boosting local high streets." Greater Manchester Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman

“Using digital engagement tools will help us to reach the wider community so that they can understand what we are proposing and communicate their concerns without leaving their own homes.  “Amid the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, we are doing everything we can to help ensure the safety and well-being of our employees, maintain operational resilience and provide solutions that can help the community across Trafford." Steve Tilby, Principal Engineer, Amey, One Trafford Partnership