Autumn 2015-Summer 2016
The Earls Court development is one of the UK’s most widely-opposed redevelopment plans. The West Kensington and Gibbs Green housing estates are due for demolition, and planners had suggested not all of the 760 homes on the estates would be replaced. This obviously led to anger. The new political administration elected in Hammersmith & Fulham in 2014 had promised to look again at the deal to ensure no one was forced out. We were asked to research attitudes to the plans, to help address concerns and re-build relations.
How we approached it
We conducted face-to-face research to a tight timeline, delivering 200 surveys in a week. The surveys asked residents what they had heard about changes in the area, how they felt, and their hopes and concerns about the plans – as well as more practical questions, which would feed into a comms strategy. Values research found that it was Settlers who were most concerned.
We also ran focus groups, and facilitated a ‘Residents Negotiation Taskforce’. The latter was a group of representative residents, enlisted to develop a list of ‘resident-led asks’ that would help the council negotiate with the developers.
Many residents felt there was no credible source of information, leading to anxiety and anger. Meanwhile, a lack of communication from the Council meant there was a vacuum which others were filling, meaning a lot of noise.
We presented our findings to key council stakeholders and worked with them to produce a communications and engagement plan that focused on re-establishing the council’s presence. This resulted in a series of newsletters with congruent messages, an office hub on the estate, and a core group of influential advocates in the community.