Case Study: Shopping centre extension, Medway District Council

Background

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.

Communications Challenge

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.

Solution

  • 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.

Result

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.

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