Fresh eyes

Planning policy, PR and comms for developers

Planning policy, PR and comms for developers
Paul Tustin Client Director PR & Comms Headshot

Written by Paul Tustin,
PR & Communications Director at Freshfield

The PR and communications challenges facing building developers to engage with the communities their proposals affect seem to have just got tougher.

The default position ‘yes’ in favour of sustainable development – originally proposed to kick-start investment, jobs and the economy – has been removed with immediate effect in the National Planning Policy Framework.

At the 11th hour, there were amendments from Planning Minister Greg Clark to also protect ‘garden grabbing’ and local school playing fields.

Separately, developers also need to observe the Localism Act 2011 which sets out very clear legislation for local planning issues to make sure that local communities have a greater say in the developments that affect them.

Where does all this leave developers, eager to start building again with housebuilding at a record low since 1952?

For the communications process, they need to adopt best practice, do their homework and make sure their proposals reflect local opinion on a case-by-case basis, while also meeting national needs of town and urban planning. A tall order indeed.

If there is one central, clear message it is that local communities just got even more powerful and important.

This means that developers need to fully consult with local people at the earliest opportunity to make the process simpler further down the line.

The Localism Act enshrines these principles of consultation and engagement, and goes further with the right for communities to establish local neighbourhood planning forums – made up of local people – able to grant full or outline planning permission to speed up the process.

At Freshfield, we encourage consultation and engagement wherever there is a need for public involvement. Enabling the diverse range of citizens to voice their opinion early, clearly and in the format suited best to their individual needs, whether online or offline, is of paramount importance.

The benefits of engaging locally is a simpler, speeded up process for developers, who ignore this legislation and guidance at their own peril when times are difficult enough.

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