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Hedgehog Hall of Fame: Athene Communications - Peterborough Garden Park

16th August 2013

Company: Athene Communications Campaign: Responding to the Localism - Engaging communities at Peterborough Garden Park Category: Community Engagement Campaign of the Year - South - Shortlist Partners - Peterborough Garden Park Objective 1. To inform, engage and consult with local communities in relation to a proposed retail extension (a new supermarket) to the existing Peterborough Garden Park shopping centre. 2.  To exceed the guidance for pre-application community engagement within the Localism Act (which received Royal Assent in November 2011), and establish a best practice approach for engagement as part of the planning and development process. 3. To ensure communities are proactively informed about the proposals and are encouraged and enabled to provide feedback to shape the plans. Target Audience The strategy was built around the need to proactively engage communities in the planning process, enable them to share their views, and highlight the specific benefits that a supermarket could bring to the area to help meet identified local needs. A five stage process was designed to deliver an effective community engagement programme and meet the project objectives: 1. Community audit desk-based research informing the community engagement strategy by providing a thorough understanding of the local communities. 2. Community engagement strategy developed by drawing on the information unearthed within the audit. A summary of the strategy was produced as a public document and taken to councillors and local authority planners for their review and sign-off. The strategy specified which communication channels would be used to maximise effectiveness, key messages, and how harder to reach communities (for example the traveller community) would be engaged. 3. Delivery of the community engagement and consultation process involved media management, public exhibitions, stakeholder briefings, community workshops, an information drop-in centre, posters, advertising, leaflets, a programme of community involvement and liaison, and community advocates. 4. Capture and analysis of all feedback received. 5. Feedback to the community following the submission of the planning application to demonstrate how comments have been taken on board. The audience was residents and stakeholders (for example local councillors) within communities surrounding the existing Peterborough Garden Park (Eye, Dogsthorpe, Werrington, Parnwell, Paston, Welland). Action A key factor was to ensure the campaign met and exceeded new government guidelines in the Localism Act which places greater emphasis on developers to prioritise effective community engagement at the pre-planning application stage. Developers often view community engagement as a tick-box exercise, however by delivering it in a considered, planned way that is informed by and tailored to the audience, we have demonstrated how valuable a process it can be for both developer and community. Between December 2011 and June 2012 Athene delivered a thorough and wide-ranging community engagement programme to support Peterborough Garden Parks planning application. Particular creativity was required in order to fully engage local people and hard-to-reach groups. Some examples of activities employed include: Get the choreography right- careful consideration was given to which key stakeholders (councillors, community leaders, business leaders) were met with at which time. This approach meant that the right people were briefed at the right time with the right message in advance of the public consultation. Not all messengers are equal, we identified a range of different community leaders and spokespeople that were in a position to help get our message across to key audiences. By engaging the right members of the community, we were able to use their connections and credibility to reach many more people than we would otherwise have been in a position to engage. Community reporters peer to peer communication can be extremely effective, we trained a team of community reporters to capture residents views on the proposal and stimulate discussion. Taking the project to local people - a series of public exhibitions were held using venues within the communities themselves, we also attended a range of community meetings to discuss the plans.  Make it easy- alongside formal feedback forms that people could complete, we also held interactive workshops to gather comments and produced short comment postcards which could be completed and returned via Freepost.  Site visits-  we invited various groups, for example Peterborough Disability Forum and Parnwell Residents Association, to engage with the proposals by offering site tours which allowed them to visualise the proposals and make their feedback more meaningful. Results A total of 186 completed feedback forms were returned during the public consultation, capturing the views of local people on the proposals.  Over 900 postcards of support and 40 letters of support were received in favour of the proposed new supermarket at Peterborough Garden Park. This broke local planning office records for the amount of support registered for the planning application.  The community engagement programme received praise from local councillors for its extensive and thorough approach which actively encouraged and enabled local people to find out about the plans and have their say.  The final planning application submitted was shaped by feedback from local people, responding to comments and concerns raised. URLs The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. Here are this years updated categories.

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