Cardiff Hendre Lakes is a proposed new business district at the heart of the Cardiff Capital Region. Served by Cardiff Parkway railway station, the development has the potential to support around 6,000 jobs and become a transport hub opening up access to employment opportunities across the region. Alongside leading communications, engagement and consultation for the project to support it through planning, we were asked to create a brand that captures a strong sense of place and bring the whole project to life.
The project’s goal is to become a catalyst for growth, contributing to the regeneration of East Cardiff and the wider Cardiff Capital Region by attracting high-quality businesses and investment. The development, which is located to the south of St Mellons Business Park, aims to deliver jobs and investment to the local area while helping people to connect with a unique landscape. All communications needed to be available in Welsh and English.
As the site is within a Site of Special Scientific Interest and part of the historically significant Gwent Levels, our aim was to build a relationship with the local community early, to explain the project’s potential benefits and incorporate local knowledge and feedback. This would lay strong foundations for the subsequent pre-application consultation. The design and branding of communications needed to be welcoming and reassuring, as well as flexible enough to work in a bilingual context.
We ran a series of branding discovery workshops to create a brand and logo in a colour palette of tonal blues and greens inspired by the natural landscape. To ensure accessibility and inclusion, we chose a simple sans serif font that would work well for Welsh and English printed materials such as a series of booklets, newsletters and feedback forms to support the consultation process. A multi-language website allowed people to access this information in a digital format. Exhibition banners, posters and signage all supported face-to-face consultation events.
The brand and materials have been well received by stakeholders and the community alike. Members of the public complimented the accessibility of materials during events surrounding the consultation.
The West Midlands Interchange (WMI) is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) located in South Staffordshire. The new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange will sit adjacent to the West Coast Mainline and span 300 hectares. Copper was tasked with delivering consultation and engagement services to support the Development Consent Order (DCO), as well as communications and support building.
It has been long-established that a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange in the area was essential to address the shortage of logistics capacity in the West Midlands. However, with the development planned on Green Belt land, there were significant concerns about its impact on wildlife, the landscape and daily lives. As a result, it faced fierce opposition. Misinformation around the scheme compounded the problem.
Our strategy was to develop a national and regional advocacy programme and proactive media campaign to manage misinformation and build understanding around the need and benefits of the project to minimise risk of objection. The approach centred on telling the story of West Midlands Interchange in ways that related to local residents and stakeholders, bringing its benefits to life for the area.
By creating a business story emphasising the need and benefits of new rail freight capacity in the West Midlands, we helped the public and stakeholders understand the major economic benefit to the area. The scheme is set to create more than 8,500 jobs and attract significant industry as well as reduce traffic across the region’s roads and introduce new parkland in the vicinity, all of which was little understood.
We also established and delivered a contact centre to ensure the public felt heard and could get answers to their questions quickly. Not only did it manage concerns that otherwise might have escalated into issues, but it also helped strengthen the project’s reputation and pave the way for acceptance.
Re-enforcing the positive impact across the region also supported the project funder’s reputation, positioning it as playing a key role in levelling up in the UK by investing in infrastructure in the Midlands.
By developing and delivering a transparent two-stage consultation process, including compliant statutory consultation, we helped ensure West Midlands Interchange was accepted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate. Local authorities complimented the consultation delivery, and the consultation report was well appraised during the examination period.
WMI was granted development consent in May 2020 and we continue to work with the project as it enters construction.
The West of England’s mass transit project aims to transform the way people move around the region, dramatically improving congestion and air quality while reducing carbon emissions.
It represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to revolutionise travel in the region by providing a high-capacity public transport network with fast, frequent and reliable services that will be developed and delivered over several years.
Copper was brought on board to support West of England Combined Authorities with early stakeholder engagement to better understand the needs of local people, providing evidence of a strong Strategic Outline Business Case.
A history of false starts for major infrastructure in the region meant some stakeholders were sceptical about the likely success of new projects. This was compounded by the project being in extremely early stages, with the concept of mass transit ill-defined. The
There was an added layer of complexity with the project spanning several councils all with distinctive demographics, geography, and politics. The region needed to ‘speak with one voice’ in its support for the project given the competitive nature of central government funding.
To add further challenge, Covid-19 restrictions ruled out face-to-face events meaning all engagement activity had to take place online, with the risk that some community stakeholders might be excluded.
Our approach hinged around early, transparent engagement on the objectives of the mass transport project to establish its purpose and solidify the concept in the minds of stakeholders. In doing so, we aimed to build understanding and trust around the project.
We began engaging stakeholder groups early while scheme options were still in development to understand their priorities for a mass transit system.
The first stage saw us run a series of internal workshops with partner unitary authorities to explore the vision and values of mass transit. We crafted a clear narrative that all partner organisations could sign up to and use in their communications, enabling us to establish a single voice and alignment around views.
We supported live briefings and three webinars with a wide range of stakeholders from MPs to grass-root community groups. In addition, we were careful to select interactive engagement tools to bring new voices into the conversation and enable input and feedback representative of the locality.
By consulting early, we laid strong foundations for future engagement based on mutual trust and respect. Starting a dialogue with stakeholders warmed them up for consultation. It helped us secure meaningful, representative, qualitative and quantitative feedback that reflected the needs of communities and stakeholders and influenced the development of a Strategic Outline Business Case.
Transport East is the sub-national transport body for the East of England. The partnership was developing its first transport strategy, and Copper was appointed to support early stakeholder engagement. Our role was to ensure the Transport East team effectively engaged with stakeholders and the public to create a strategy representative of the needs and ambitions of communities in the region.
A sub-national transport body in the area had been mooted for many years, yet it had never materialised. As a result, aligning political and wider stakeholders with opposing views on infrastructure investment and decarbonisation had the potential to be challenging.
In addition, while adult residents were an important target group, the Transport Strategy spans 30 years meaning young people in the area will feel its impact most. Their needs and views were vital to the project’s success.
Our approach was to create multiple accessible opportunities for engagement for every stakeholder group. However, COVID-19 restrictions necessitated a purely digital engagement strategy. To meet the different communication needs of each audience and ensure input from groups representative of the area, we adapted traditional engagement techniques to the digital environment.
Digital accessibility was a priority. By selecting user-friendly, interactive engagement tools, we brought new voices into the conversation, even those hard to reach.
We also ran a series of online workshops designed to allow as many people as possible to help shape the strategy to meet the needs of the masses, facilitating online meetings with 100+ stakeholders.
With an equal focus on securing input from future users of the region’s transport network, we designed and delivered a targeted campaign for young people aged 11-13 in preparation for future engagement during consultation.
Ensuring the Transport East partnership stayed updated and supportive of plans, we delivered briefings with partner authorities, the Transport East Senior Officer Group and Transport East’s annual Transport Summit.
Utilising our knowledge of the region and large-scale projects, the Transport East team secured meaningful, representative, qualitative and quantitative feedback to influence the transport strategy and set the foundations for successful consultation.
We helped introduce Transport East to a wider group stakeholders in the region, providing a platform for its campaign in front of key figures in the industry and building brand reputation.
We laid strong foundations, setting the standard for future stakeholder engagement in the region, while earning public trust that the Transport Strategy will come to fruition.
Bath and Northeast Somerset Council has an ambitious target to become net zero by 2030. Understanding the critical part transport plays in the region’s carbon emissions, Bath’s ‘Journey to Net-Zero’ set out to identify the transport measures needed over the short, medium and long term to deliver its ambition and the needs of the community.
To get the initiative off the ground, the Council needed to make a case for the project and generate widespread, representative participation in the public consultation process.
While a high-profile project for Bath and Northeast Somerset Council, it was unknown outside of the organisation and therefore had no momentum among target groups. It was also critical the consultation was inclusive and had the support of hard-to-reach groups traditionally disengaged with the Council’s priorities.
COVID added a further layer of complexity, forcing restrictions on public gatherings, immediately ruling out face-to-face engagement opportunities.
Our priority was introducing the project to the widespread community and instigating insightful conversations with the general public, including hard-to-reach groups, and stakeholders to give them a voice and demonstrate advocacy for the project.
Our content and online strategy focused on creating a compelling, accessible narrative around the council’s vision for net zero and removing barriers to engagement and participation.
We began by developing an audience-focused narrative to tell a compelling story around the project. The narrative formed the backbone of communications and engagement assets designed to appeal to a diverse audience, including an animation, ‘fast facts’ visuals and targeted content.
Online consultation reached all pockets of the community using targeted social media channels. A thought-provoking, sharable content programme maximised our reach and prompted peer-led support for the consultation and vision.
Further engagement opportunities were created via public and stakeholder webinars.
The consultation secured engagement and input from a broad audience representative of the community served by Bath and Northeast Somerset Council. More than 1,000 responses over a one-month period reflected the needs and priorities of a wide community base, including groups usually under-represented, to help the organisation confidently shape a range of solutions.