SP Broadway was asked by two pension funds to provide political, community and media relations support to secure planning permission to increase the retail footprint of their out-of-town shopping centre in Medway, Kent by 21,500 sq ft in 2010 and again in 2012/13 for a similar amount of A3 space.
The communications challenge posed problems from a community perspective: the scheme saw a decrease in on-site parking in a very residential neighbourhood. Political complications were added through the ward councillor also being Council Leader, and his wife chairing the Planning Committee: clearly without their joint support we would struggle.
- SP Broadway briefed the local residents’ association and key political stakeholders to understand the level of community support and identify key issues of concern.
- A public exhibition was held which attracted 1, 576 members of the public over two days. SP Broadway analysed 118 feedback forms, and established 92% support.
- We used residents’ feedback to refine the scheme and turn constructive criticism into positive support, organising a pre-committee briefing to members in association with council officers.
After successful pre-committee briefings, including a meeting with the Ward Councillor/ Council Leader, the first scheme was consented in November 2010. After further political briefings, a subsequent planning application for A3 use was consented in February 2013 by 13 votes to 1.