MPC helps secure consent for Bovis Homes at planning committee with 36 members
MPC was appointed by Bovis Homes to assist with the community and stakeholder engagement on their reserved matters application for 230 homes in Essington, South Staffordshire. The outline permission had been granted to a land promoter from 210 homes, a convenience store and a car park for the nearby primary school, however Bovis had purchased and was only promoting and seeking to slightly increase the residential element of the scheme. Since outline permission had been granted, an action group had formed who felt that consultation at the outline stage was inadequate and that the previous applicant and the Council should have done more to inform and represent the local community. This action group was very active by the time Bovis began promoting their reserved matters scheme.
Our strategy was to distance Bovis from the land promoters consultation and engage closely with the action group and the local community, remaining as transparent as possible throughout the process. We met with the action group ahead of the public consultation to discuss our approach to engagement and shared the results of our feedback with the group and our proposed response at a meeting following the event. This prompted a constructive response from the action group who in turn shared the feedback they had independently gathered from the local community with us. We continued to keep the action group updated through to determination and also closely monitored the activity of the group, discreetly attending public meetings and advising Bovis on how to respond.
The action group was largely focussed on arguing against the principle of development on the site. It was therefore vitally important that we engaged close with strategic stakeholders at South Staffordshire to ensure they understood what matters had been agreed at the outline stage and what elements are covered by a reserved matters application. Unusually, all councillors are members of the planning committee and as such there was a large number of stakeholders to engage.
After a two hour debate, and despite calls to defer the decision by the ward councillors, impassioned speeches from the Leader of the Council and other the Cabinet Members, the application was granted permission with a vote of 24-12.