Hatchwood Mill, Winnersh Road Opening Day

Hatchwood Mill – Consortium Management

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Borough: Wokingham Borough Council

In 2017, Cratus Communities began work on a consortium site in Berkshire. The initial purpose was to facilitate relationship building between the developer and the local authority by building links with the community. Quickly, the team’s work on the site expanded to include reputation management for the developer and site overall, whilst also negotiating the challenge of working with the partner developer who was not a Communities’ client.

Furthermore, the site’s stakeholders were a challenging group, with the Community Liaison Group made up of existing residents who had all opposed the scheme to begin with. This group had engaged with new residents to form a wider group, which expanded to the councillors – with perceived issues on-site becoming a key part of ward councillors’ electioneering in the run-up to May 2019.

By encouraging proactive communications from the development team on both sides of the consortium, the team worked to ensure that the residents and local authority were notified of any potentially disruptive works before they took place. Through regular meetings, the relationship of mistrust between the consortium and its residents has begun to improve, with Cratus Communities facilitating, chairing, minuting and following up on actions from these meetings.

The consortium now has an improving reputation, and there is a greater emphasis on continuing this momentum forward as more residents move onto site, with Cratus Communities well-positioned to continue to receive concerns and enquiries about the site and ensure that they are resolved in a timely and satisfactory manner. The use of site trackers has been fundamental in this process, ensuring that both developers are regularly asked for site updates and these updates are shared with the residents at least once per month.

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