From Opposition to Support
The CCP was tasked by Morris I&P to lead on a consultation exercise to win over the hearts and minds of a local community in Bedfordshire, in order to gain permission to turn the former local pub into a residential development of 35 apartments. The Bird in Hand was a popular pub in North Dunstable that began to struggle over the years. Two different breweries couldn’t make it work and eventually the pub closed. This was followed by a concerted effort from local residents to have the site declared an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and set it up as a communal facility.
The application for the ACV attracted a lot of public support (including the Councillors and local MP). Unfortunately, despite a lot of support they could not raise the funds to purchase the site and set up a business on it.
Initial engagement was met with opposition but eventually, through dialogue led by the CCP, the point was reached where Councillors could see the benefits of the proposed development.
What the CCP did:
- Devised a “virtual site visit” to demonstrate that the building was no longer fit for purpose or a public house.
- Conducted an innovative consultation programme utilising modern technology to explain the benefits of the proposed scheme, showing an alternative to them of using the site for housing and associated infrastructure.
- Met regularly with Town and Unitary Councillors and involved them throughout the design process. The CCP also involved residents and local elected Councillors so that they felt that they contributed to the destiny of the site.
- Called on third-party advocates to support and resolve issues when technical problems arose with officers.
This resulted in overwhelming local consent. Although officers wanted to issue a delegated refusal on minor points, Councillors intervened. Central Bedfordshire Planning Committee granted unanimous approval, with the local councillor speaking in support.