Planning communications & engagement services

Background

We have been supporting McCarthy & Stone, the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, on all their planning applications nationwide since 2013. McCarthy & Stone recognises that engaging with local communities during the planning process is a fundamental part of its approach to delivering much-needed housing. We play an integral role in helping McCarthy & Stone achieve faster and more efficient planning consents, while also fostering a greater interest in and understanding of the benefits of retirement housing. This collaborative approach to consultation has contributed to a significant improvement in first-time planning consents.

Key project information

  • The UK is facing a housing crisis, it is not building enough retirement housing, despite the fact that the number of people aged 65 and over is set to grow significantly in the next two decades
  • McCarthy & Stone is the only housebuilder capable of meeting the need for high-quality, specialist housing that growing numbers of older people are seeking to suit their retirement lifestyle and needs
  • Since building its first development in 1977, McCarthy & Stone has become the UK’s leading retirement housebuilder, selling over 54,000 apartments across more than 1,200 different locations

How we assisted

We undertake extensive community consultation support for all of McCarthy & Stone’s sites across the country, engaging thousands of people each year on new development proposals.

At the heart of each tailored consultation strategy, our aim is always to achieve an efficient planning consent, protect and enhance McCarthy & Stone’s reputation and enhance and effectively engage the community. Every planning application in 2016/17 was supported with a detailed communication programme, including activities such as public exhibitions and meetings, one-to-one briefings, newsletters, site visits, councilor presentations, supporter mobilisation and dedicated websites.

We also work to enhance McCarthy & Stone’s corporate reputation and to support its comprehensive public affairs programme. This work has included:

  • Producing a number of corporate videos
  • Jointly hosting a London seminar with the GLA on housing for older people, attended by key local councilors from across the capital
  • Jointly holding election hustings events at key developments
  • Helping to raise the regional and national profile of McCarthy & Stone by holding MP and councillor meetings
  • Communication and consultation to support the construction period

Outcome

The benefit of McCarthy & Stone’s commitment to working with the community is reflected in the significant rise in first-time planning consents that we have supported in 2016/17 (80%). In 2012, before the collaborative relationship put consultation at the heart of McCarthy & Stone’s approach, it was only achieving a 64% first-time approval rate. Importantly, 82% of people engaged by us and McCarthy & Stone found the experience very informative.