The HS2 interchange is set to be a world-leading station and an investment in Britain’s future. It will unlock value across the West Midlands, transforming Solihull into a civic destination hub, driving job creation and wider economic growth, and levelling up the region. A partnership of two internationally renowned construction and civil engineering companies, Sir Robert McAlpine and VolkerFitzpatrick, and one of the world’s leading professional services firms, WSP has formed under the name Unity, to deliver the world’s first BREEM validated station. We were tasked with developing a web presence to position the partnership ahead of the bid process for Interchange.
It was vital that decision-makers had confidence in those potentially delivering Interchange and that information was available quickly and easily. The website also needed to provide an anchor point for bid-related marketing activity.
The breadth of expertise within the partners is significant so we set out to emphasise its credentials as well as inspire confidence in the partnership itself by highlighting past collaborations. Given the audience, we also made a conscious decision to keep the website to key pages only, with an accessible design.
A partnership between our creative services and construction team, we developed key messages and content, including case studies to demonstrate competence, experience and excellence. To bring the team’s value to life, we created an icon style and a series of other graphics that underlined the collaborative approach to the project.
The website received positive feedback upon its launch.
The Towns Fund is at the heart of the government’s ambition to levelling up places which have historically lacked investment and opportunity, enabling economic growth and regeneration. To support towns with securing and delivering the Town Deals, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) appointed a delivery partner. It also represented a new way of working for government that of itself would help inform the shape of future funding delivery models and programmes.
The Towns Fund Delivery Partner is a consortium of six private sector organisations working as one with each fulfilling distinct strategic functions and bringing specialist expertise. Arup as consortium lead and with a multi-disciplinary role across the programme and service delivery, was supported by: Nichols Group leading on management and operations; Copper Consultancy as communications and engagement lead; FutureGov, learning and experience, governance and leadership lead; Grant Thornton, funding and investment, monitoring and evaluation, data insight lead; and Savills providing specialist place-based expertise.
Putting the town’s needs first was key. Based upon a town-centric and continuous learning approach to understand towns’ challenges, what they needed and when, the Towns Fund Delivery Partner was able to design and refine the support it offered as the programme progressed. It delivered advice and support at a range of levels that aimed to add value rather than duplicating resources already available to towns.
Working alongside the Towns Fund central team and Cities and Local Growth Unit Area Leads, the Towns Fund Delivery Partner was committed to the principle of co-design and co-working with Government. The Towns Fund Delivery Partner’s insights gleaned through its bottom-up approach, helped DLUHC develop its guidelines and requirements, identify the level and type of support provided to help towns that needed it most, and allowed for continuous improvement in delivery. A Total Towns Outcomes Framework questionnaire also gained understanding of towns’ longer-term priorities and desired outcomes.
We have been an integral member of the Towns Fund Delivery Partner’s strategic leadership group as lead advisor on its programme communications, working alongside the consortium team to deliver timely communication about the Towns Fund Delivery Partner’s services and support to towns. An ongoing commitment to understanding and anticipating both towns’ diverse needs and priorities, and in interpreting DLUHC’s requirements of towns in securing and delivering Town Deals, has been a necessity to manage a complex programme where towns are at different stages on the journey. We established and led the Communications and Messaging Working Group to facilitate a joint approach between the TFDP and DLUHC over the duration of Towns Fund Delivery Partner’s involvement in the Towns Fund.
Our expertise in effective community and stakeholder engagement, market positioning, brand development and use of social and other media has been drawn upon heavily by towns, firstly in developing their Town Investment Plans and then during early-stage Business Case development. This has been achieved through the creation of bespoke Towns Fund resources either as online guides, blogs and webinars or through one-to-one advice and coaching, Check and Challenge sessions and learning programmes such as Place Leadership and Making Connections Count.
Between May 2020 and November 2021, the Towns Fund Delivery Partner helped towns across four cohorts to develop a vision for their towns, produce Town Investment Plans to secure Town Deal offers and provided early-stage support to develop Business Cases for agreed projects. At its height, the Towns Fund Delivery Partner had over 260 team members representing 13 disciplines and 16 topic areas across the breadth of the country.
Worth more than £2.4 billion, all 101 towns that were selected for the programme received their Town Deal offers, paving the way for the delivery of nearly 800 projects across England.
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.
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.
The London Resort is a proposed world-class, sustainable, next-generation entertainment resort on the banks of the River Thames. As the first of its kind, the project called for best practice, innovative consultation and engagement. Copper was brought on board to deliver a comprehensive communications campaign capable of building support for this unique project, while delivering compliant consultation to support the planning process.
There was a commitment to investors to submit the project planning application by the end of 2020, which necessitated consultation and engagement activities being delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic at a time where traditional consultation techniques were not possible. We therefore needed to innovate to ensure a compliant consultation and generate advocacy for the project. However, digital-only statutory consultation was unchartered territory.
We adopted a digital-first approach, primarily driven by disruption caused by the pandemic yet with benefits beyond overcoming national COVID-19 restrictions. It was the first time a digital-only approach was applied in a UK Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and required a highly specialised programme.
Central to the approach was making the consultation user-focused to reach a diverse audience, including those who prefer to access information digitally and those who would normally have chosen to attend public events and in-person meetings. The campaign was designed to ensure it was an inclusive, engaging experience for stakeholders using innovative tools and techniques.
We maximised the use of state-of-the-art tools and online platforms, including a project website, social media channels, dedicated consultation webinars and a virtual consultation room.
The virtual consultation room was made interactive. Using digital banners, visitors were able to look around the room from a computer or mobile device, with the project proposals explained in a way that was easy to understand. The proposals were also made available in audio format.
To avoid the risk of digital exclusion we supplemented digital innovation with traditional consultation methods, including:
- community information leaflets delivered to households in nearby areas
- telephone surgeries for representatives from seldom heard groups
- hard copies of consultation materials produced ensuring all stakeholders’ needs could be met
We also utilised press, paid-for print and digital advertising, plus partnership promotion to extend the campaign’s reach as far as possible.
Our digital-first approach delivered a legally compliant consultation that successfully supported the planning process. As a result, it was accepted for consideration by the Planning Inspectorate. The strategy also enabled the client to meet the investor commitment to submit plans in 2020.
By incorporating a user-focused approach, we maximised the effectiveness of the publicity and advocacy campaign which was integral to the project’s successful Development Consent Order (DCO) application, making London Resort the first business or commercial project to reach such a milestone.
Delivering state-of-the-art digital consultation enabled us to widen the reach of the consultation. Combined with the unique nature of the theme park, the digital strategy created a dedicated following for the project, with 65% of people agreeing it will benefit the local area. Support was sufficiently strong we were able to utilise the advocacy to leverage our efforts towards gaining DCO acceptance.
HyNet North West is an innovative carbon capture and hydrogen project to unlock a low carbon economy for the North West and North Wales. It will put the region at the forefront of the UK’s drive to net zero. By creating the UK’s first low-carbon hydrogen cluster, the project seeks to provide clean hydrogen energy for the future, de-carbonise the region’s heavy industry, protect existing jobs and create thousands of new ones.
As the project moved towards a more public-facing stage, we were engaged to evolve the HyNet North West brand and tasked to create a communications campaign to support the launch of the public consultation for the first stage of the project.
We developed the UI designs and redeveloped the HyNet webite, simplifying the navigation and streamlining information. We created a series of graphics and assets that could be utilised across multiple channels, as well as on the website.
Sitting alongside the website, we developed a consultation microsite to support the first consultation on the HyNet North West project. The look and feel reflected the overarching HyNet brand.
We develop social graphics to support HyNet’s key messages, encourage engagement and explain complex concepts to stakeholders and the public We develop social graphics to support HyNet’s key messages, encourage engagement and explain complex concepts to stakeholders and the public.
HyNet North West is made up of several different projects, the first of which is a carbon capture pipeline. We designed and delivered an animation to help explain key elements of the project in an accessible way, enabling people to easily respond to the project’s public consultation.
The public responded very favourably to the campaign. There were more than 8,000 visits to the consultation hub website during the non-statutory consultation period, driven by promotional materials and social media.
We saw a marked increase in social media engagement across multiple channels, with Twitter seeing a 279% increase in impressions, LinkedIn experiencing a 303% increase in new followers and HyNet North West’s Facebook account having more than an 8,433% increase in engagement.
The campaign built a positive platform for future stages of consultation and engagement needed for HyNet North West to succeed.