Winchburgh: building long term community relationships
The Winchburgh project is a substantial extension to a small existing settlement in West Lothian. It has been in progress since submission of the initial planning application in 2005 and commencement on site with enabling infrastructure in 2012, and throughout that time the lead developer has put great emphasis on community engagement. In terms of construction of infrastructure, facilities and housing, the project is now on phase 2 of 4. Over 500 of the projected 3,900 homes are occupied. The community has played an active part in planning future phases and community facilities like schools and a park, as the examples below illustrate.
Engaging on park design
The park is a good example of the effect of community involvement. It is located on a former landfill site. Originally the masterplan proposed that the landfill site would be remediated and set out as an informal open space suitable for dog walking, etc. But after community engagement it was decided to upgrade the open space to a formal park. Engagement covered planning, design and construction. Remediation work to form the park area was linked to the housing development by a Section 75 agreement, enabling the District Park to be created on commencement of Phase 2 of the development masterplan.
Different engagement approaches
The developer uses a range of engagement approaches from informal one to one discussions to presentations in packed halls. Rather than deliver a message cold to an uninformed audience, these follow more informal early meetings and other engagements to share and work up development ideas. By the time of Pre-Application Consultation, most issues have been addressed and the community is usually supportive of proposals. These big presentations have now become annual events, providing an opportunity for the developer to update on progress and outline proposals for the forthcoming year.
Bringing communities together
The developer is conscious that the priorities of new residents may be different from those in the original village. The developer’s community consultant has spent much time working with the groups in the original village, some of whom are older. This led, for example, to a call for more ‘cottage’ housing for older people like the workers’ terraced cottages in the existing village. In response, proposals were brought forward for affordable bungalows designed for older people to live on a single level.
Part of the community consultant’s role is to manage emotions and keep people informed. As the development population increases it is logistically challenging to keep everyone informed. One successful approach has been that a number of residents are now acting informally as ‘Winchburgh Ambassadors’. They have a two-way role, to communicate information to the community as well as relay information back to the developer about areas of concern or where there is
Find out more
For more information, please visit Winchburgh Developments Ltd website.