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Queen Edith’s residents in Cambridge asked to complete innovative online survey

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A Cambridge community is running an innovative online survey it hopes will make its voice heard as the wider area is consulted on the new local plan.

Sam Davies. Picture: Keith Heppell
Sam Davies. Picture: Keith Heppell

The Queen Edith’s Community Forum has launched a Place Standard online survey. The online tool was created in part by the Scottish Government as a way to improve community discussions and measure opinion.

Opinions on development and community strategies tend to be difficult to measure, especially prior to a narrowing down to specific options to choose between, at which point many may feel it is already too late to have their say. This survey aims to measure opinions and assess the general will for what the community wants before a specific proposal is considered. The idea is to then create evidence-based policy, reacting to what the community says it needs.

The online survey creates a spidergram assessment of an area based on the community’s responses. The data can then be broken down to measure the input from different demographic groups. The intended end result is a numerical assessment of the community’s feeling towards a range of issues.

The Queen Edith’s Community Forum is hoping the survey will contribute to the greater Cambridge consultation launched today (January 13), which is also seeking the community’s feedback in order to help shape the future Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council local plan.

The Community Forum presented the idea in its newsletter as a response to what it perceives as a problem with local government consultations.

It said: “The traditional process has been for general plans to be presented to the community by the local authorities, and feedback sought through consultations. But by then, the direction has already been established, and any response from the public is just a mass of uncoordinated individual comments.”

Community Forum chair Sam Davies said: “Queen Edith’s is an area which is experiencing huge pressures and changes as a result of its proximity to the Biomedical Campus, but nobody in the last 20 years has managed to create a vision for how this neighbourhood will work. And the survey is designed to build understanding of what is important to people here.

An example of a Place Standard survey
An example of a Place Standard survey

“The intention is to understand the existing strengths of the area and what could be improved to create better quality of life.”

She says other consultations are “too singular,” narrowing the question to one particular proposal or a limiting set of options, whereas this will be a “more holistic” view.

The Place Standard survey uses “industry standard software” and the results will be sent to the city council and as well as being assessed by an “impartial” statistician.

Sam added: “We don’t want this to be open to claims that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

The results will be available next month.

The Scottish Government website says of the method: “The tool provides prompts for discussions, allowing you to consider all the elements of a place in a methodical way. The tool pinpoints the assets of a place as well as areas where a place could improve.”

The survey will run until the end of January and can be accessed at https://queen-ediths.info/place/.

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