Village appraisals and parish plans

A village appraisal or parish plan is wider than a Village Design Statement and assesses social, economic and environmental issues within the village or parish. The Village Design Statement can be incorporated within a parish plan. A village appraisal will survey how residents feel about the village shop, the recreation ground and so on, as well as thinking about the village historically. The history of the village may not go as far back in a village appraisal as in a design statement. However, the heritage of a village may be what makes people proud to live there and therefore becomes a feature to promote.


A village appraisal is more about taking opportunities for economic growth and encouraging a feeling of community. Many of its findings may be similar to the design statement in that residents will express where they feel any future development should happen and room for improvement to facilities, but there will be less in depth analysis of a village’s character as expressed through architectural and historical matters.


The Village Design Statement or appraisal will also incorporate a consultation with the local community for their ideas of what to conserve, enhance or improve about an area. When conducting a residents survey or questionnaire it is useful to ask both closed and open-ended questions. Closed questions are ones that give a yes/no answer or where the respondent has to tick a box. These are easy to analyse statistically. Open-ended questions are ones where people are asked for their opinion or experience and provide good qualitative information that can be quoted in the finished report.


When writing a survey it is also good practice to avoid leading questions such as “Don’t you think that…” or “Would you agree that…”. There are different ways of doing a survey. You can take a questionnaire door-to-door and speak to people in person or do it over the phone, but door stepping and cold calling is not popular with everyone. Doing a survey of passers by in a busy shopping area is also often seen as intrusive and unwelcome. A postal questionnaire tends to get a very low response rate, often as low as 25% of people respond. However, with a questionnaire that has clear benefits for their community, often the response is very much higher. A public meeting is often a good way to get feedback from a large section of the community, as long as it is well publicised. If some other way can be found to engage people in the process, this is often the most successful option.


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