We’ve provided an English local authority with the first phase of communications support for a contentious land project.

The southwest-based borough council (unnamed here because the scheme is confidential at this stage) is exploring the idea of disposing of a large area of open land. Its plan is to sell the land to a developer which would create hundreds of new homes – helping the council to meet its tough housing targets – as well as community facilities, roads and commercial premises.

While providing homes for many local people, the project is also likely to provoke controversy, with many residents opposed to more housing in the area and others resistant to the loss of the existing amenity.

The council’s intention is to announce the initiative soon and put the land on the market in several months’ time. The organisation called us in, as specialists in handling thorny issues, to advise on the best way to explain the project to the community – and we’ve put measures in place in case it leaks in the meantime.

We have:

  • Recommended the most appropriate terms in which to present the project – being transparent about its rationale, up-front about what it would involve and clear about benefits which might otherwise be overlooked
  • Geared up to help manage a potential community backlash – thinking through the likely objections and devising the best ways to respond
  • Created a full set of communication materials that’s ready to be deployed at any time if news of the project comes to light

The next stages of the communications campaign will be to announce the plans publicly in the near future, and to run a community engagement exercise to explain the project in detail and take local views on board.

See more on our services for local government bodies – and our work in managing contentious issues and crises