Case Study: 62 houses, Maidstone Borough Council

Background

Our client sought planning permission for 62 new homes on the edge of Headcorn, a village in Maidstone Borough.

Challenge

  • The site was located in open countryside, within a Special Landscape Area.
  • The Planning Committee included the site ward member, who we understood to be lobbying fellow councillors against the scheme.

Solution

  • We undertook detailed political research into the views and allegiances of members of the Committee, identifying positive messages around the scheme that were likely to resonate with key members.
  • We produced and distributed a five-page briefing letter to all members of Maidstone Borough Council Planning Committee that outlined the key features of the proposal and its benefits. These benefits included improved road safety, the creation of new public open space and also footpath enhancements. The letter also presented the scheme as an excellent opportunity to provide high-quality new wildlife habitats – an issue we knew from our research to be of particular importance to key members of the Committee.
  • We followed the briefing letter with courtesy calls to members of the Planning Committee to make sure that they had received the letter and to establish whether they had any comments or last-minute questions. We produced a detailed analysis of the responses made by members, providing our client with useful intelligence as they prepared for the Committee.

Result

Having secured the planning officer’s recommendation for approval, the scheme was approved by Maidstone Borough Council Planning Committee in February 2016. Seven councillors voted for the proposal, citing the benefits of the scheme highlighted in the briefing letter, overcoming the votes of the six councillors swayed by the ward member.

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