Last month Cratus was delighted to be a part of the team that helped registered housing association Southern Housing Group achieve planning permission for their scheme at Walstead Park, Mid Sussex. This scheme will see 200 much needed new homes provided near Lindfield including land for a new primary school, a community hub, a new country park as well as many other benefits.
The team was originally appointed to work on this project back in February 2020, which feels like a lifetime ago, when we were still able to host traditional public consultation events. On this basis Cratus designed a bespoke community engagement strategy to guide the scheme through the consultation process and up-to determination of a reserved matters planning application.
There were a number of key issues that the team had to consider in designing the engagement strategy, namely that a previous outline planning application for the site had been approved at appeal by Wates Developments. This previous application gained a significant level of controversy, including over 200 letters of objection as well as numerous petitions to refuse the application.
Unfortunately, as we all know, a month later it was no longer possible to hold a physical public engagement session. With this in mind the team got to work advising Southern Housing Group on how they could fulfil the requirements set out in the Mid Sussex District Council Statement of Community Involvement and go above and beyond in ensuring that the community felt they had a say and impact on the final proposals. To do this the team drafted a comprehensive 12 page community engagement leaflet that would provide the same level of information and engagement as a traditional consultation whilst ensuring that the team was mindful of the restrictions on social gatherings that were in place at the time. The leaflet provided key information on the scheme, details on who Southern Housing Group is as well as information on how a future application for the site would address concerns that residents had previously.
This clear and concise communication as well as the key messaging used helped to ensure that there was less negative publicity towards the site and resulted in the scheme only having 26 comments on the Mid Sussex planning portal.
With support from the technical team and Cratus, the scheme was approved with 10 votes to 1 at Mid Sussex’s District Planning Committee.
If you’re interested in the work our Southern Home Counties team is doing, please get in touch with Alison Turner.