It was a long and bumpy journey – far longer than Nescot’s management had anticipated – but their insistence that they would shepherd through plans to build on their Animal Husbandry Field, rather than simply sell off the land to the highest bidder – finally came to a happy conclusion at Epsom and Ewell Town hall on a hot night in June.
Cratus were called in to assist the development team in ensuring a full and robust consultation process took place, and to help craft an application that would pass the ‘balance test’ at committee.
The journey began with meetings with ward and planning councillors and the Chairs of the four adjacent Resident Associations where the original scheme was discussed in detail. It then moved onto a Public Exhibition held in the heat of July and attended by 265 people.
Opposition to the scheme was public – even before the exhibition opened its doors – with some rather misleading reporting in the local press engendered by neighbours. Sadly, although the copy was often quite balanced, the headlines in the local paper consistently sensationalised the issues giving the impression that resistance was widespread across the borough.
Nescot listened to the concerns of residents and consulted fully with their representatives and planning officers, making a number of changes to the scheme until its final iteration was submitted early in 2014.
In the meantime plans were submitted and eventually approved for a wide ranging upgrade and redevelopment of the academic campus and a further application, sited on a quadrant of the Animal Husbandry Field, for a Care Home was refused.
The final submitted scheme presented to committee was fully policy compliant. Whilst members expressed concerns over a number of issues they agreed 8 to 4 that ‘on balance’ – that well known litmus test for controversial applications – the borough would benefit not only from the 36 affordable homes, the 55 homes for private sale and a robust Section 106 – but also from the lasting legacy of a rejuvenated college campus ready to face the educational challenges of the 21st Century.
Cratus is proud to have worked with the core team of Scott Brownrigg and Day Architecture to support Nescot’s management through a process that, whilst demanding, ultimately resulted in the best possible outcome both for the college and the Borough.