Snapdragon Consulting was instructed by U+I to undertake a programme of community and political engagement for their proposals on Royal Engineers Way, Maidstone.
The proposals included the development of 310 new residential units. Of these, 220 would be delivered as Build to Rent (BTR) across a range of studio, 1 bed and 2 bed units. U+I intend to operate and manage the Build to Rent units themselves.
The BTR concept was fairly new to Maidstone, and a substantial stakeholder engagement programme was undertaken to ensure the proposals and BTR model was understood and well received by the local community and decision makers.
An introductory presentation on the principles of BTR was held for members of Maidstone Borough Council, in order to portray U+I’s vision for the site and their expertise in this sector. The presentation was designed to communicate U+I’s BTR credentials in both property development and on-site management as a landlord.
Further to this, a series of stakeholder meetings with local resident groups and ward Councillors took place to advise them of the detailed proposals coming forward. Due to the complex political nature of Maidstone Borough Council, and controversy surrounding their Local Plan, it was important to insure thorough communication with ward members, residents and stakeholders.
In addition to the meeting programme, two set piece public consultation events were held in July 2016. During these events the BTR concept was explained in detailed to attendee’s to ensure a thorough understanding of the benefits and intricacies of the model.
Following submission of the application, an update leaflet was issued to local residents and a further member’s presentation held to ensure any concerns were mitigated ahead of determination.
The application was approved by Maidstone Council’s Planning Committee on 2nd February 2017, by a vote of 7 in favour and 5 against, with a single abstention.