Kanda was appointed by Wellcome to carry out extensive community engagement on the proposals for the expansion of the Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridgeshire.
The proposed development includes:
• Up to 150,000 sqm of research and translation floorspace
• Up to 1,500 homes for Campus-linked workers
• 2.7 hectare new public common
Our engagement programme had to be tailored to two different audiences: staff working on the campus and the local community around it. Our engagement programme took place over four stages, starting with understanding the campus and community priorities, concerns, and aspirations and ending with pre-application consultation.
The key was to sensitively manage the anxieties and concerns of staff and ensure that the new proposals encompassed their needs and aspirations as much as possible. This is different from engaging with a local community who live around a site, but whose experience day-to-day will not be changed in a significant way by a proposal. Sensitive engagement is imperative, allowing enough space for their views to be heard and considered.
This can be done in a number of different ways, but in this case, we used a hybrid approach, using both face-to-face and digital engagement methods. In particular, we used an online communication platform just for campus staff to distribute a series of online surveys testing campus staff priorities for the development.
Face-to-face events were tailored for the different audiences who were invited (whether staff or the local community), ensuring that we managed expectations and incorporated aspirations from both sides. At these events, we also hosted a virtual reality experience which offered a life-like experience of the proposals to stakeholders.
We made sure that residents and campus staff felt listened to by drawing out the key themes in our earlier consultation stages and conversations and structuring future engagement around these topics specifically. This allowed the engagement to genuinely influence the plans in a managed and realistic way.
Through a comprehensive programme of engagement, featuring workshops, events, one-to-one meetings, online engagement, flyers, and virtual reality, we were able to create long-standing relationships with stakeholders which ultimately resulted in South Cambridgeshire approving the outline proposals in December 2020.