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ACD Engagement Overlay Launch May 2024

It was a full-house at JTP's London studios for the first launch event of the Engagement

Overlay to the RIBA Plan of Work on 15 May 2024. Built environment professionals from a

range of disciplines gathered to learn about the Overlay, hear from a panel of experts, and


About the Engagement Overlay

The Engagement Overlay represents a significant step forward for the built environment

profession. It aims to enhance the quality of engagement with all stakeholders and provide a standardised baseline for architects and other place professionals.

By prioritising engagement as a core aspect of professional service, resources can be

allocated effectively and risks mitigated, thereby ensuring favourable outcomes for all


This Overlay goes beyond traditional methods, fostering early and effective engagement

throughout all project stages. Aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals, the

Engagement Overlay seeks to achieve inclusive and sustainable outcomes by fostering

meaningful collaboration and creating environmentally resilient spaces.

By embracing effective engagement strategies, we can maximise benefits and create more

resilient neighbourhoods.

"Participatory methods are essential for the quality planning, design and maintenance of everyday places, not just to foster inclusivity, access, and community agency, but to create places that are fit for purpose, tailored to the context of local environments, integrate well into the landscape and bring more people into the built environment sector. "

Carolin Göhler FLI

President-Elect, Landscape Institute

Thoughts from the Panel

The panel session brought together Dian Small (RIBA London) , Lynne Ceeney (Hertfordshire County Council) , Vanessa Gregory (Look St Albans), and Alister Kratt (LDA Design) in discussion with Sarah Jones-Morris, Co-CEO of the ACD - ably assisted by

Charles Campion, partner at JTP.

The group shared their insights concerning a wealth of issues and opportunities related to

engagement as part of shaping and stewarding the built environment. They identified the

following attributes as being essential for quality engagement:

Curiosity - Be curious about what a client wants and what they need, about the

voices that are heard and need to be heard during engagement activities, and about

the make-up of the workforce who is facilitating engagement.

Authenticity - Be clear, use the right methods for the context within which you are

operating, manage expectations and treat everyone as if they are entitled and

welcome to participate.

Transparency - Be open, transparent and feedback to communities throughout

every stage of the engagement process.

Collaboration - Build communities of trust that evolve over time and anchor projects

with principles that everyone can follow and understand.

"Early, effective and proportionate engagement requires a multifaceted approach which can have far-reaching benefits for project development."

Sarah Jones-Morris, Co-CEO, ACD

The ownership profile of a project was seen as a key factor in determining whether

engagement is welcomed and harnessed by developers at present. For instance, a

developer-operator was viewed as having a completely different mindset to a

developer-promoter-investor. The former having longer term involvement with a development and therefore feeling responsible for its stewardship and supporting community resilience, whereas the short-term nature of the latter's involvement leads to general disinterest in future involvement.

The panel session ended on agreement that a 'good engagement activity' should be

evaluated against the 3Fs: fun, friendly and fruitful!



As well as an opportunity to launch and celebrate the Engagement Overlay to the

RIBA Plan of Work in London, the evening was an opportunity for networking - for

meeting old friends and colleagues and establishing new relationships. For the ACD,

a bonus was the opportunity to meet with our co-author of the Overlay, Paul Ruffles

of Sustrans, who had travelled from Scotland to participate!

The Bristol Launch of the Engagement Overlay is happening on the 16th October 2024 and

more information will follow soon!


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