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How we put a £50m housing development on the map

Foxhall Village
Jennifer Peacock Freshfield PR & Comms Manager

Written by Jennifer Peacock,
PR and Marketing Manager at Freshfield

In 2013, North West housing developer Hollinwood Homes, part of the Marcus Worthington Group, tasked Freshfield with delivering a programme of activity to drive sales at Foxhall Village, its new £50million housing and regeneration project in the heart of Blackpool. When complete in 2020, the development will have 400 affordable homes and a vibrant new community will have been created.

Objectives

  • To create interest and awareness of the new housing development through a multi-channel marketing communications campaign.
  • To support the sales drive for new homes by encouraging people to visit and view the homes within the development.
  • To engage local community groups and stakeholders to create a buzz about the development and its regeneration benefits.

Tactics

Activity has focused on generating interest among local people, as well as attracting people from outside the area to relocate to Blackpool. An important part of the strategy was to change existing negative perceptions surrounding the location of the development – a former industrial site that had fallen into disuse – as well as emphasising the wider regeneration and social cohesion benefits of the project.

Freshfield delivered a comprehensive media relations campaign including announcements on significant development milestones being reached, industry award wins and site visits from key stakeholders. This has resulted in over 65 pieces of quality print and online media coverage, containing key messages regarding the new village.

To gain the support of local people, Freshfield implemented a community engagement programme to help Hollinwood Homes establish relationships with local groups. With construction on the first homes underway in 2014, Freshfield orchestrated a partnership with local graffiti artist Chris Fenn and invited local youth group The Blackpool Boys and Girls Club to create artwork for the site’s hoardings, ensuring local interest in the project was sustained during a period when there was little to see.

A two-year sponsorship of local youth football team Foxhall Juniors followed, allowing the club to purchase much needed equipment and kit. Freshfield also enlisted the services of construction mascot Ivor Goodsite who gave Bugs to Butterflies, a youth club based next to Foxhall Village, a tour of the development and important lessons on building site safety.

Facebook and Twitter profiles were created to encourage engagement and drive traffic to the Hollinwood Homes website. The social channels are used to provide informative content about Foxhall Village, the local area and to encourage enquiries.

In a nod to the development’s close proximity to Bloomfield Road, the home of Blackpool Football Club, all property types on Foxhall Village are named after former Blackpool FC footballers. To support this link, Freshfield liaised with former striker Dave Bamber to arrange a photo opportunity. The photograph was used on page three of The Blackpool Gazette and offered further content for social media channels.

To increase footfall to Foxhall Village’s new showhome, Freshfield organised an official opening event, inviting members of the public and VIPs to look around the new marketing suite. To keep people engaged, a seaside theme was implemented, with Freshfield sourcing an ice-cream cart, a fish and chip van and seaside photo peep boards to entertain visitors. Freshfield also liaised with the local media and secured the presence of journalists from The Blackpool Gazette and BBC Radio Lancashire, generating media coverage as a result.

Results

  • There has been over 65 pieces of positive print, online and broadcast media coverage about the new development.
  • Social media activity has included a dedicated Facebook page with over 400 likes, while the Hollinwood Homes Twitter feed has built up a following of more than 300 people.
  • In the two years since work began, Foxhall Village has sold out its first phase of 129 houses, with enquiries continuing to be made and work well underway on the next phase.
  • The development was named most innovative scheme in the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) North West Planning Achievement Awards 2015, and has been shortlisted for a RICS North West 2016 award in the regeneration category.

The client’s view

“In promoting the development of a new village in the heart of Blackpool, we knew it was important to work with Freshfield. The team has consistently secured valuable press coverage which has in turn helped drive enquiries. They are the experts.”

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