Like many I welcomed Grosvenor’s discussion paper last week on "Rebuilding Trust" in the planning and development ecosystem. The startling figures presented around perception and distrust were perhaps not so startling to us involved on the front line, and yet to be confronted with the truth in such a way has brought some sharp focus to the industry. I thoroughly recommend a read.

Aside from some helpful (and I believe accurate) pointers around challenges and opportunities, where the paper really seems to have added value is that it has since triggered a tide of introspection across the industry. How we communicate and engage with affected communities, how we plan properly, what is the role of planners, what’s the purpose of a S106, how much do we share openly - I could go on.

Today I attended an excellent @London_First event on "Assessing Sustainable Communities", where MHCLG Chief Planner Steve Quartermain talked about the need to put the "master" back into "masterplanning", so that initial visions actually played out in practice. Makes good sense to me.

For my part though I’d like to encourage the industry to think differently around how we engage, communicate and share information on commercial matters with affected communities.  

For the private sector this creates some real dilemmas, which Grosvenor’s report doesn’t quite solve.  U+I bravely ventured into the unknown with their "PPP: The Reset", whilst the major Plc house builders talk a good game and occasionally prove themselves.  I’m heartened though to see some new entrants like Stories treating this conundrum as an opportunity rather than a threat.   

In the regeneration world, traditional approaches of co-design with the community creates too much of a one dimensional understanding of development, which then undermines trust. To address this wherever possible we should consider co-producing the commercial strategy by up-skilling the community and then sharing commercial information and options with them. We’re trialing this with Newham Council at Custom House and are already seeing green shoots of something that could be quite special...