If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably interested in places and place-making. Maybe you work for a government body, housebuilder or housing provider. You could be involved in new development, regeneration or infrastructure.
This work often sits in the context of ‘delivery’ or hitting targets and numbers. While important in itself, it often misses the bigger picture around why this work matters. It matters because it makes great places happen. Done well, this transforms areas and improves people’s lives.
Throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19, good, agile communication is helping to make places happen across the country. Every project is different, and there’s no template to fit its needs. But here are five things we advocate through our work to make places happen that keep our clients moving forward at this challenging time.
The devolution deal for ‘greater Bristol’ won’t set most people’s pulses racing. But ask those who live and work here what’s important to them and many will say housing, transport, education, jobs or a combination of the above. As it happens, the West of England’s deal is geared towards addressing all of these issues.
On the table is £1bn to invest over 30 years in housing, transport and skills. Post #EUref, when ‘taking back control’ swayed views about our country’s future, handing responsibility for these issues to local areas seems an obvious step.
It’s probably worth five minutes’ of everyone’s time in the scheme of things.
Explanations for its ‘fall from grace’ centre on issues are varied. They range from being caught in a sector-wide pincer movement between Aldi and Lidl and Waitrose, to a rise in internet shopping and the sense that shoppers have simply fallen out of love with Britain’s biggest retailer. It’s still making hundreds of millions in profit each year. But the CEO Dave Lewis probably can’t afford too many hits like this, even though his response to the outbreak of the crisis was swift and impressive.
I’ve worked as a comms person for Tesco, supporting local consultations designed to inform its planning applications for new stores. I was struck by the dedication and drive of those connected with the business; everyone bought into the vision. We’ve shopped there for years and been devotees of its Clubcard loyalty scheme, which we’ve used to ‘reward’ ourselves with meals at Pizza Express and trips to Longleat.
Sarah is calling for support for a Twitter campaign started by Maureen McAllister using the hashtag #openforbusiness to highlight the fact that life is continuing here, despite the deluge.
It has generated traction with people, businesses and media organisations from across the South West using it to remind people that the region is not completely cut off by the elements. I had a look at some results generated by up to 2,000 tweets on the topic using the tool Tweetbinder, which can be used analyse hashtags used in campaigns. Have a look at the dashboard and some of the stats, which includes some data on reach, influence and original tweets and content (as opposed to retweets and ‘noise’).
Here’s another blog post from another comms professional who has helped the campaign recently. Good to see people taking some positive steps to support the South West. I’ll be offering my support to see if it can make a difference.
I visited a site today in one of the most beautiful villages I have ever been to, where the HCA is supporting the construction of new affordable housing.
Wheddon Cross in Exmoor is one of those picturesque villages most people would dream of living. Situated on top of the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park, with a smashing pub and hotels in the centre of the village and stunning scenery in every direction, it certainly seems popular with visitors.
But with average house prices in Exmoor approaching an eye-watering £400,000 last year, many locals undoubtedly find it impossible to afford to live in villages like this.