Case Study: 3,500 new homes, South Cambridgeshire District Council

Background

A national housebuilder sought an allocation for 3,500 new homes on an underused airfield in Cambridgeshire.  SP Broadway was instructed to provide political, community and media relations support to promote the inclusion of the site in the council’s Local Plan.

Challenge

 SP Broadway was instructed after initial concern that the airfield would not be included in the emerging Local Plan.  Meanwhile a vocal campaign group had formed to fight the potential inclusion of the proposals in the plan, securing support from some ward councillors.

Solution

  • SP Broadway undertook an initial ring-around of key council members to ascertain their views on the potential inclusion of our client’s site in the Local Plan. These calls established the site was in serious contention for inclusion in the draft plan, but ‘not certain’ to be included.
  • SP Broadway organised a meeting with key cabinet members including the council leader and the cabinet member for planning to discuss and promote the merits of the site. Shortly after this meeting the draft plan was published, which included an allocation for 3,500 new homes on the airfield.
  • As the Local Plan progressed through various council meetings, we held briefings with ward members and the MP to brief them on the proposals, gain an understanding of their views, and prevent/detect wavering of support.
  • To tackle misinformation from the opposition group and any potential public misunderstanding, we launched a dedicated consultation website, outlining the key aspects of the proposed development and promoting the benefits.
  • In the run up the council vote on the Local Plan a comprehensive briefing letter and leaflet were sent to all council members. Calls where then made to councillors to answer their questions and where necessary answer their concerns.

Result

 The Local Plan was ratified in March 2014 (27 in favour, 21 against) with an allocation for 3,500 new homes on our client’s airfield.

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