Case Study: 210 houses & care home, East Dorset District Council

Background

A consortium asked SP Broadway to run the community consultation for its plans to build 210 new homes and a care home on the site of a former military hospital in East Dorset.

Challenge

The access route for the planned development would lead onto the already-congested A31, raising concerns amongst residents about increased traffic levels. Additionally, the hospital was located in an environmentally sensitive area with acid grasslands, bats, badgers and reptiles.

Solution

  • We first took out a subcription to local newspapers to keep aware of planning and development issues in East Dorset and the views of key stakeholders, circulating relevant articles to the project team in a weekly email.
  • We then organised a public exhibition in August 2013, advertised in local newspapers. The exhibition was attended by 189 residents and stakeholders and 59 filled in a feedback form. Analysis of the forms showed 97% of respondents either supported or did not explicitly oppose the proposals, though there were understandable concerns about traffic and access.
  • After the exhibition we set up a consultation website to enable interested residents to access up-to-date and accurate information about the scheme 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Once the proposals had been revised to address concerns we organised a second exhibition in July 2014, attended by 191 residents and stakeholders. 39 attendees completed feedback forms, with analysis revealing fewer concerns about traffic and access and majority support for proposed ecological protection measures.
  • After the second exhibition we drafted a concise three-page briefing letter to send to planning committee members ahead of determination; however this letter was not ultimately sent since feedback from the council was overwhelmingly positive in the run-up to committee.

Result

The proposals were unanimously approved by East Dorset District Council Planning Committee in September 2015.

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