Housing scheme approvals surge as Eric Pickles eyes success

Posted on January 23rd, 2014

After reading the latest report in Planning it seems Eric Pickles is on a housing-approval runaway train that refuses to stop anytime soon. It has been found he has personally approved 21 housing schemes between March and December 2013, which is five schemes short of the total number approved in the previous three years.



Helping developers achieve planning consents

Posted on January 6th, 2014

2013 was a busy year for the consultation team at RDPA. We’ve been hard at work helping developers connect with local communities and achieve planning consents. Read on to find out what we’ve been up to. (more…)

RDPA Case Study: Taylor Wimpey – Haydock Grange

Posted on August 21st, 2013


Haydock Grange is a housing scheme, aimed at alleviating the lack of alternative housing sites available in Preston. Since being awarded city status in 2002, Preston has witnessed a shortage of housing stock, which has contributed to a slowdown in population grow and an increase in the number of people moving to other parts of Lancashire.

Introduced by Taylor Wimpey, the Haydock Grange proposals included plans for up to 450 energy-efficient family homes to be built on the site, as well as a raft of improvements to local infrastructure.


RDPA was brought in by Taylor Wimpey to position Haydock Grange as a new Grade A development, that would bring a host of benefits to the local community. Prior to our appointment, the planning application had twice been refused due to negative public perception. With this in mind, we were also tasked with engaging locals and working to mobilise support through a variety of mediums and events to enable the approval of the application, and alter people’s perception of the proposals.

In regard to these aims, we administered a series of public consultations aimed at engaging and strengthening links with the local community. These events were combined with a sustained campaign of media relations that helped to raise awareness of the scheme and its benefits, as well as combat the negativity and apathy that had dominated the previous consultation exercises.

What we did and how we did it

We aimed to go the extra mile with a public consultation campaign that centred around the use of social media as a way to engage and inform the target audience directly. We used channels like Twitter and Facebook as part of a multi-channel campaign of content that would help Taylor Wimpey to connect with key audiences, particularly those who were reluctant to engage with consultations carried out through traditional means.

These activities were complemented by media relations efforts that Taylor Wimpey’s commitment to working as part of the local community. We developed a strategy that took a plethora of media channels into account, ensuring that a cross section of people had access to details of the proposed development and were able to provide feedback in a quick and convenient manner.


  • Our social media campaign was welcomed by the local community, which included 550 connections made through Twitter, 68 influential likes recorded on Facebook and more than 400 views on the Haydock Grange YouTube channel.
  • Using the Haydockgrange.co.uk website as a hub, our efforts drove a steady stream of traffic to the portal. Over a ten-week period, it received more than 1600 visits.
  • We interviewed a range of high-profile figures involved in the planning submission, utilising these videos for a ‘talking heads’ section on the website. These addressed the issues raised by the community and were incorporated alongside social media activity to educate the public and drive further traffic to social profiles and the site itself.
  • Our monitoring tools revealed a 45% increase in the number of positive conversations being had about the scheme since the campaign’s start. Similarly, we found that the influential 35-44 year-old audience had been accurately and successfully targeted thanks to our efforts.
  • Planning permission for the scheme was given in January 2012.

RDPA Case Study: Preston Tithebarn

Posted on August 21st, 2013


The Preston Tithebarn was a £700 million redevelopment project, focused on the regeneration of Preston City centre. It was brought about by a partnership between Grosvenor, Lend Lease Corporation and Preston City Council.


 RDPA was tasked with providing PR, marketing and community consultation support for the proposals for the regeneration area.  Particular areas of focus included:

  • Helping to secure consent for the scheme’s planning application
  • Minimise negative press coverage
  • Manage and direct relations among the local community and journalists
  • Mobilise support among the media and public
  • Raise awareness of the project and engage the area’s populace during the consultation period
  • Generate footfall at the project’s Visitor Centre


What we did and how we did it

RDPA aimed to develop an understanding of what locals wanted from their town centre and tailored the key messages around these sentiments. Using this information as a basis, we created an engaging consultation programme that was well-publicised, easy to access and encouraged feedback.

We identified potential key challenges in the local press and developed a media campaign to ensure the project was able to demonstrate on its own terms the positive socio-economic benefits for the community and city.


Public participation far exceeded expectations, with more than 2,000 visitors recorded at the project’s Visitor Centre, which was more than double the target amount. The community and local businesses were engaged and enthusiastic about the scheme and more than 90% of regional media coverage over a six-month period was positive.

In November 2010, planning permission for the Preston Tithebarn scheme was granted. However, in 2011, Preston City Council opted to abandon the regeneration scheme, preferring to take an incremental approach to the redevelopment of the city centre.



RDPA Case Study – ASDA Stores Ltd

Posted on August 21st, 2013


Asda Stores Ltd is one of Britain’s most loved supermarkets in the UK. Formed in 1949, the company specialises in food, clothing and general merchandise and boasts more than 500 stores across the UK.


RPDA was brought on board to engage the local community in regard to proposals for the redevelopment of Spring Gardens Road in Longton and to help secure approval for a 45,000 sq ft superstore at the location. Our key tasks included:

  • Liaising with tenants on-site, who would need to be relocated to make way for the development
  • Mobilising support among local residents, some of whom were initially against the proposals
  • Engaging the local media and communicating positive messages about Asda and the redevelopment of Spring Gardens Road.


What we did and how we did it

RPDA initiated a comprehensive programme of consultation events in the run-up to the application. We also developed and agreed upon a series of key messages on the development, which would highlight the socio-economic benefits of broadening the retail offer in the area.

A number of one-to-one meetings with local councillors and MPs were set up and carried out alongside on-site meetings with tenants and members of the local community. We also offered a 24/7 proactive PR service, which aimed to capitalise on any promotional opportunities and keep abreast of relevant developments.

In addition, RPDA initiated a broad programme of social media engagement, which aimed to feed information directly to the local community and mobilise support among people that are typically unengaged with the consultation process. Online efforts were also supported by a bespoke project website, hosting a variety of information on the development proposals.


More than 165 people were attracted to the public consultations on the development over a period of three days and feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 95 per cent of respondents expressing approval for the scheme.

A range of positive stories were published on the proposals within the local press, including encouraging comments from councillors and local residents. RPDA developed a good working relationship with the council in regard to the scheme, along with the support of the local MP and other identified stakeholders.


Roland Dransfield scoops four new property wins

Posted on August 20th, 2013

In line with the agency’s expansion plans and following the recent launch of its new public affairs arm, Manchester-based public relations and marketing consultancy, Roland Dransfield, has been appointed to handle four major property accounts in the North West.

Following a five-way pitch, The Preston Tithebarn Partnership (PTP) has appointed Roland Dransfield PR and its new sister company Roland Dransfield Public Affairs, to handle the media relations and public consultation process for the £700 million regeneration of Preston City Centre. The Partnership is a joint venture between developers Grosvenor and Lend Lease working together with Preston City Council. The Tithebarn Regeneration Area will create 1.5million sq ft of retail, leisure and residential space for a 21st century city centre, offering new, high quality living, working, entertainment and shopping facilities.

Deidre Cumberbatch from Lend Lease comments: “We were impressed that Roland Dransfield could offer a combined Public Affairs and PR service so we could work with one agency to meet our needs. Roland Dransfield has a strong track record of working with other major developers and we felt they were the best team to help us introduce our vision for Tithebarn to the public, councillors and press.”

In Wigan, Roland Dransfield has been instructed to advise on the regeneration of the 15-acre Eckersley Mills site, with a remit to support the submission of the planning application and an ongoing media relations campaign over the development period. The regeneration proposals are for a mixed-use scheme comprising 338 residential units, 25,000 sqm of business space, a new hotel, cafés, restaurants, cultural facilities, and gardens and squares, together with a potential new live marina.  The proposals will also create over 1,600 new jobs.

Most recently Roland Dransfield has been appointed to handle David McLean Homes’ public relations in the North West, Midlands and Southern regions to help raise the profile of the brand, team and individuals across the country. Fighting off competition in a three-way pitch, Roland Dransfield secured another great addition to its portfolio.

Finally, MCR Property Group has chosen the 13-strong team to provide ongoing media relations support. On the appointment, Aneel Mussarat, CEO of MCR comments: “We needed a PR company which would offer strategic and proactive advice, in line with our business objectives and expansion plans. In the short time since the appointment, Roland Dransfield has demonstrated itself as a very professional team which has taken the time to understand us, showing a great passion for the work it does.”

On the account wins, managing director of Roland Dransfield PR, Lisa Morton comments: “As we pride ourselves on being the PR property experts in the North West, it’s rewarding to play such a fundamental role in the regeneration of two major areas in the North West. The scheme-led instructions have been partly attributable of the launch of our public affairs company, headed up by director Rana Bhutta. Our clients have felt reassured that we have the expertise to provide political, consultation and media advice all under one roof.

“MCR Property Group is an extremely active developer, with a great story to tell and is a very strong addition to our portfolio.”

A sporting chance for local community

Posted on August 20th, 2013

Roland Dransfield Public Affairs has succeeded in helping Goals Soccer Centre secure planning permission for new sports facilities in Manchester’s  Heaton Park.

The Manchester City Council planning committee agreed the proposal which was submitted by Goals Soccer Centres, to create the facility, which will include small-sided football pitches, tennis and netball courts, a climbing wall and changing rooms. Roland Dransfield undertook a community consultation programme for Goals in support of the application.

Pupils at St Monica’s school (pictured) are among young people in the area who currently have limited access to a full range of quality sports facilities and who will benefit from being able to use the sport zone free of charge in term time.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council’s executive member for culture and leisure said: “This is great news for the park and great news for the local community. A key priority for the City Council is to make sport more accessible to residents and so it’s particularly important that the facilities will be available either free of charge or at discounted rates for 60% of the time for community groups.

“It’s reasonable that the local community can expect to access sports facilities in a park, especially in one the size of Heaton Park, where there is plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the surroundings. We have open-air theatre, a public golf course, a boating lake, horseriding and a farm, and these sports facilities are a welcome addition and continue the investment that the city has made to improve the park over the last decade. The Heaton Park Trust volunteers have been campaigning since the mid 1990s for facilities like this in the park to improve access to sports and ultimately health and fitness for the benefit of the wider community and I’m delighted these plans are now coming to fruition.”

Goals Soccer Centre, will develop the new facility and managing director Keith Rogers added: “Getting the approval today means that we can move forward now to bring these of much needed sports facilities to Heaton Park. We have pledged to make over 300 hours community use available every week and schools such as St Monica’s will really benefit from having this stunning new resource on their doorstep.”

The brand new facility will be tucked away in the northwest area of the park next to the bowling-green and pavilion, which were purpose built for the Commonwealth Games in 2002. It will be created in the area traditionally utilised for sports activity and will use 3.4 hectares of the 260-hectare park, leaving the rest of the park’s vast landscape undisturbed and enabling the other park activities to continue as normal.

The new facilities will see the return of tennis courts to the park, after they were removed from the historic core of the park as part of its ongoing restoration, funded in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The new facilities will see the return of tennis courts to the park, after they were removed from the historic core of the park as part of its ongoing restoration, funded in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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