Leading The Way With Public Consultation And Communication

The need for new homes has never been more pressing

The worsening UK housing crisis is well publicised, with the Government vowing to deliver 300,000 new homes every year.

The pressure on the housing market is significant with the demand for homes outstripping supply.

An increase in life expectancy, single person occupancy and the demand for second homes being just some of the contributing factors. For many first-time buyers and young people, house prices are out of reach, with ever increasing deposits and monthly payments reducing the number of owner occupiers.

Delivering sustainable and environmentally friendly housing for a diverse and growing population with a variety of needs, coupled with the ability to provide local residents with the infrastructure and community assets they want and desire, remains a challenge.

Local Authorities are under increased pressure to provide quality resources for health, housing, education, transport and culture.  At a time when public funds are scarce, new development can generate the revenue to provide infrastructure improvements which would not otherwise be delivered.

Strategic land promotion and the importance of working together

For the planning process to work effectively, land promoters, housebuilders, councils and residents need to work together in partnership to achieve a positive outcome from residential development for local communities.

We work at both a local and national level to help build policy which supports the delivery of new homes and infrastructure in key areas across the country.

Helping deliver the homes this country needs though land promotion

Catesby Estates is highly regarded as one of the foremost experts in land promotion and infrastructure delivery in the UK. We are committed to helping provide the new homes the country needs.

As strategic land promoters we work with landowners to bring land to the market with planning consent for housing, in order to deliver much needed, high quality new homes.  

We believe the key to our success is our collaborative approach and commitment to delivering sensitively designed housing developments tailored to the character of the local area and providing real community benefits.

Acknowledging the significant roles local stakeholders play in the planning process we have an in-house communications team who engage directly with stakeholders, rather than using external third party agencies.

Positive change through strategic land promotion

We help deliver sustainable developments and homes where people have the opportunity to take their first steps on the housing ladder, buy a family home, or downsize. Our developments help maintain and enhance the vitality of existing communities through job creation and socio-economic growth.

Considerations for the environment and sustainability are at the forefront of our decision-making process.  For example electric charging points, early landscape planting and biodiversity improvements are just some of the features included in our sites.

All our sites provide policy compliant levels of affordable housing, and significant public open space as a key feature. We consult with leading ecology and landscaping experts to ensure ample public space is provided within developments for both residents and local wildlife to flourish.

It is our responsibility to work closely with local stakeholders to ensure we deliver new sustainable developments that will thrive for years to come.

Communication is a two-way process when working in land promotion

We look to involve the community at an early stage, so they can help inform our final proposals, helping to underpin the vision of our developments.

Not limited to desk research, we pride ourselves on our ‘boots on the ground’ approach.  We don’t shy away from difficult conversations, and we are always happy to engage with local residents, community groups, elected representatives and other key stakeholders.

This enables us to better understand the local issues and seek to offer real tangible benefits to the local community.

A perceived lack of transparency or openness and a deficit of communication and engagement, breeds resent and cynicism, which often manifests itself in direct opposition both at a political and local level.

By  approaching residential development in the right way, we can leave a positive legacy for the area, and build a level of trust as a preferred land promoter.

 

A right to be heard

How we interact and air our views has changed for at least the short to medium term due to the Covid pandemic, and many of the standard planning public consultation methods have fallen by the wayside due to social distancing restrictions.

Research by Shelter has found people who are opposed to local housing are three times more likely to actively oppose than supporters are to actively support an application (21% compared to 7%).  This means many voices are not being heard by the planning system.

Often the loudest voice and those most actively involved in community engagement are those against development, believing it will have a negative impact on the area.  Public exhibitions are often dominated by individuals who own their own home, have high disposable incomes and have the time and means to attend in person.  Pre-Covid this was certainly our experience.

We are now all familiar with Teams and Zoom calls which can overcome many of the time and accessibility barriers that prevented people from attending in person consultation events. 

Engaging the silent majority through the land promotion model

‘The silent majority’, including young workers, families and people with disabilities, often find it difficult to attend and engage.  Yet often they have the most to gain from new housing, employment and other benefits created by development.

We use the power of social media to overcome many of the time and accessibility barriers that prevent people from attending traditional consultation events. 

There are circa 42 million Facebook users in the UK with more than 60% in the 18 – 44 age bracket.  Adverts and posts on a range of topics about our proposals can be shared with a large audience and comments can be monitored for feedback. 

This means there is potential to gather opinion from a wider cross section than just those who would attend traditional consultation events.

Keeping the lines of communication open

A range of options for feedback are provided throughout the process including online forms, email, freepost and telephone.  Where contact has been made, we provide regular updates to maintain relationships during the life cycle of our involvement with the site and during handover to the housebuilder.

By listening and responding to the community and the feedback received, we adapt our proposals where possible to ensure the community recognises their meaningful input has been recognised, which in turn helps to develop trust between us and the local stakeholders.

By embracing technology to change the face of public consultation, maybe just maybe we might encourage more people to engage in the planning process and the silent majority might find their voice, ultimately securing more support for new homes.

Accountability as a strategic land promoter

Well planned community benefits can bring tangible improvements to communities where development takes place including housing, socio-economic and transport betterment.

Whilst we are a business and operate to deliver a profit, we consider local needs and deliver long term value for the community. 

We are honest about the choices and trade-offs we all must  face if we are to meet the UK’s need for more homes. 

Community benefits and infrastructure delivered through land promotion

Development generates significant financial contributions.

A Section 106 is a legal agreement with the local planning authority, which ensures the required community benefits and infrastructure required in support of development is delivered.

In addition to S106 contributions, the Community Infrastructure Levy (the ‘levy’) is a further tool for Local Authorities to fund infrastructure improvements from new development.

Between 15-25% of CIL receipts secured from development are ring fenced to be spent by the local community.

Corporate Responsibility and strategic land promotion

Catesby Estates has a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility, and ethical business values are at the very heart of what we do.  Our sites assist with job creation and economic growth, with considerations for the environment and sustainability being at the forefront of our decision making process.

Where possible we work with local residents to meet the need for communal open space and community facilities. We consult with leading ecology and landscaping experts to ensure adequate space is provided within developments for wildlife to flourish.

We encourage our team to play a part in their communities at work and at home.  Our staff have been involved in charity events, including running marathons and taking part in sponsored bike rides. 

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