Snapdragon Consulting were appointed to support Meyer Homes in delivering the long-awaited development of Lowfield Street, Dartford. The project began off the back of an extensive planning legacy, during which relations with the local community and previous developer (Tesco) had become frayed and tainted after years of failed planning applications which were never seen through. The project itself was generally seen as the catalyst to bringing regeneration to the long-neglected town centre of Dartford, which added to its local value as well as stakeholder and political interest.
The purpose of the project was to undertake a comprehensive consultation process to restore people’s confidence in the future of their town centre. Inclusivity and engagement was placed at the heart of project’s vision in order to deliver this.
Due to the delicate nature of the Lowfield Street development, engagement with residents and political stakeholder from the earliest stage of the project was essential. At the outset, the project team participated in discussions with local steering groups and networks to inform the design evolution and parameters of the proposals.
Following this, a full and comprehensive consultation took place, including 3 exhibitions, a stall at the Dartford festival and a community forum. These events collectively attracted over 1000 attendee’s. The use of a more public facing venues (The Priory Shopping Centre) and fun activities (Dartford Festival) meant even those who may not necessarily make a pro-active contribution to planning consultations could access the information with ease and the use of very-public arenas for consultation was warmly welcomed in helping to foster a transparent approach and ethos for Meyer Homes. Alongside this, Snapdragon led a comprehensive political engagement strategy, meeting with key members and ward Councillors at each of the project milestones.
Snapdragon also operated a press office function, securing a substantive level of positive press coverage and a number of interviews of BBC Radio Kent.
Addressing the difficult legacy of the site and ensuring that local residents felt an active involvement with the progress of the plans was key, in addition being able to communicate their views on the failures of the past planning applications and how Meyer Homes could help improve the future of the town centre.
The proposals were approved by Dartford Development Control Board on March 2017. The level of engagement with local people and consultation activity received specific praise at the committee meeting, with Councillors labelling the community engagement strategy as ‘exemplary’.