CAG led the engagement and communications in the Atkins team which delivered this project for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The HCA aimed to secure an outline planning consent for residential use on a derelict hospital site it owns in Chelmsford, Essex the hospital site. Atkins was commissioned to prepare and submit the outline planning application.
How we delivered the project
To ensure delivery of project objectives, a Planning and Engagement Strategy was drafted and agreed with HCA and Chelmsford Borough Council officers and members. The objective of the strategy was to ensure that local residents, community and environmental groups, statutory bodies and other public and private sector stakeholders are informed about the masterplan and proposed planning application, are given opportunities to be involved in its development, and are consulted on its contents.
Initial engagement, designed to engage key stakeholders at an early stage, included a stakeholder visioning workshop. Two consultation stages were delivered, linked with the project development process. While the project team continued to engage with key stakeholders, the public consultations helped refine the design process, identify and address specific issues and reduce likelihood of any objection to the planning application. Information was provided through a project website, leaflets, meetings and local exhibitions.
The key output was community understanding and acceptance of the proposal. In order to clearly communicate the proposal, a project website was developed at the beginning of the process. The second public meeting was crucial in gaining community acceptance. It was structured in order to allow all participants to discuss issues of concern with consultants, particularly traffic issues. Despite the project being the subject of local controversy, the extensive communications and engagement process led by CAG contributed to the achievement of outline planning consent for 575 homes and supporting development.