Cratus Communities joined a controversial town centre regeneration in Surrey in April 2018. The local authority had requested a greater level of political and community engagement from the developer following serious reputation issues around the development. The planning application had been heavily opposed by a very vocal group of residents and the building works were under intense scrutiny.
The Communities team were introduced with the goal of challenging misinformation within the local community about the scheme, and improving the communication channels between the developer and the community. The developer and local authority were working in partnership with the county council, and were keen to build a vibrant and sustainable town centre.
By providing a point of contact for complaints, compliments and queries, and forming close working relationships with councillors, officers and local businesses, Cratus began to improve the dialogue between the site neighbours, stakeholders and wider community.
The team were able to promote a positive buzz around the site, changing wider local sentiment from concern and distrust to awareness and excitement in preparation for sales launch. They created a community website, which explains the purpose and design of the scheme, provides a place for enquiries and allows them to collect subscribers for e-newsletters.
They keep officers, councillors, the community and stakeholders up to date with works through a weekly e-work programme, a monthly site update, and bi-monthly Community Liaison Group meetings, alongside bi-monthly local business catch ups and frequent casual check-ins with the site neighbours. Through an extensive and well-established programme of communications, including construction communications and community tools such as the website or printed newsletters, Cratus Communities have been able to successfully establish themselves as the trusted liaison for local businesses, stakeholders and local authority to come to when there is a query or concern about the site.