Shaping the Future of Two Waters consultation - feedback summary
The Two Waters consultation
In 2021 we were awarded funding by the Government to explore and trial new ways of engaging with local communities. In our trial we held a web-based consultation on the Two Waters area on Commonplace - an online citizen engagement platform. We chose to focus on Two Waters, as this area has experienced some of the biggest changes in recent years and is continuing to evolve.
In this consultation, we wanted to understand how the community feels about Two Waters as it is currently, and what you would like future guidance to focus on. The consultation launched on 14 April 2022 and closed on 30 June 2022.
Who participated in the consultation
There were more than 400 participants to the consultation. Participants tended to be residents within the borough (often living in the HP1 and HP3 postcode areas), working full-time, aged 45-64, of a white ethnicity and without a disability or long-term illness. In total, participants made close to 1,000 contributions.
The consultation focused on five separate elements:
- Have your say: where visitors could view the map and leave comments - 246 comments with 265 agreements
- 3D model proposal: where visitors could view the proposed 3D model for Hemel Hempstead and provide feedback - 52 comments with six agreements
- Website feedback: where visitors could provide feedback on their website experience - 33 comments (with no agreements).
- Evidence: where visitors could view the background evidence gathered - nine comments and 10 agreements.
- Learn more: where visitors were able to read more about the project - nine comments with 21 agreements.
In summary, being "close to nature", "important to the character of the area", "attractive", having a "sense of community" and "feeling safe" emerged as key reasons for a place having a positive sentiment. Eighty-four per cent of positive contributions about open land and natural spaces focused on being close to nature. Clearly, if a place is near nature, attractive and gives the area some character, it is more likely to be well received by the public.
Boxmoor Common, Sunnyside Rural Trust (Hemel Food Garden) and Durrants Lakes scored highly in terms of how participants felt about them. Both the Box Moor Trust land and the Grand Union Canal were frequently felt to be unique, local landmarks, contributing to an attractive environment. The former was often felt to require preservation and protection.
In contrast, negative sentiments were typically influenced by "I don’t like the design" and "not attractive". These tended to focus on business, science or retail parks, and industrial areas. Boxmoor and Apsley High Street both received a mixed response from consultation participants, with some concerns that they were unattractive and congested.
Looking to the future, increasing nature, walking and cycling routes, and open and community space in the area, were frequent requests from participants. The proposed 3D model for the area also attracted a mixed response - with a frequent suggestion that it needed to include more detail.