Challenge:

    Slough Central is in the heart of Slough Town Centre. The site is currently the Queensmere and Observatory shopping centres, covering an area of 15 acres. British Land are redeveloping the site into an improved town centre with attractive public spaces and high-quality homes. We were asked to support a broad communications programme that aimed to consult with as many local residents as possible, obtaining their views towards the redevelopment and ensuring they understood the benefits this new scheme would deliver for them. Slough has a diverse population with many different community groups and institutions, so reaching these specialist demographics and getting an accurate understanding of the community’s views was a key measure of success.

    Action:

    To reach a diverse population, we complemented traditional communications tools with a digital consultation that leveraged a variety of online channels for community engagement. This was to attract people to the website to showcase what the proposed scheme would deliver and the USPs they would benefit from. Using social media analytics, we identified communities and demographics who hadn’t yet engaged with the proposals. Given the importance of the Slough Central proposals to the Town Centre, it was fundamental that we ensured all parts of the community had sight of the plans, and ensure early feedback so that we could provide an accurate picture of community sentiment for our clients.

    One of the groups we identified and ran a targeted campaign for was the Polish community, who make up a sizeable proportion of the Slough population and often do not to engage in community consultations or council initiatives.

    These targeted campaigns aimed at underrepresented groups complemented our other consultation activity, which included in-person meetings with different community groups and cultural institutions. A core facet of our strategy included analysis of reporting metrics; ensuring that key groups have seen and engaged with consultation materials.

    Result:

    Unanimous consent was secured for the masterplan at committee despite a highly challenging environment following the financial troubles faced by Slough Council. Significant progress on major strategic blocks was made including infrastructure and economic regeneration matters with local stakeholders. Long term ties were established with key local businesses and community stakeholders to better enable support for the development through future planning and reserved matters applications.

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