During the early part of 2014 the Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee identified the lack of information on public opinion and perceptions of the Town. Without this vital information the Committee did not feel able to progress discussions on possible policy topics.
To resolve this deficit of information it was agreed that a town-wide questionnaire be developed, touching on all topics which had been discussed at earlier break out sessions and steering committee meetings. In order to segment this task a number of individual sub committee were formed, to look at specific topic areas and identify key questions which could not be answered by currently available information.
The result of these sub committee meetings and a number of steering committee meetings refining the work was a 96 question, 12 page questionnaire, covering topics such as parking, education, hosing densities, employment and many others.
To ensure the maximum level of feedback the decision was taken to physically deliver a copy of the questionnaire to every single residential property in the Town, with a prompt that additional copies could be obtained from the Town Council or filled in online.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that due to the size of the questionnaire many families and couples decided to fill in a joint copy, rather than individually. Over 800 responses were received in total, a response rate of circa 10% (assuming only individual responses, the rate would be higher if there were multiple inputs). This was considered to be a very strong response rate, especially when compared to similar exercises in other areas of the country.
Responses to the questionnaire can be categorised into two groups, tick box responses which were easy to analyse, and free text responses which required more detailed analysis and coding. Due to the sheer volume of responses, well in excess of 50,000 free text responses, the international market research firm Blauw Research were contracted to assist with this step.
Free text responses (uncoded) – PDF
Free text responses coded and summarised – PDF
From the results of the questionnaire key themes were drawn and included on display banners to act as tools for further consultation events in 2015.