This week saw the launch of the development industry’s very own version of WikiLeaks. The website, Concrete Action allows and encourages planning professionals to anonymously provide advance information on developments ‘to communities and activists… negatively affected by property development’.
This is perhaps the pinnacle of the recent trend of communities and anti development groups using online technology to develop their campaigns. Over the past 10 years or so we’ve seen campaigns evolve through Facebook, Twitter and on petition sites like Change.org.
These simple and accessible tools allow protest groups to reach thousands of like-minded people all over the country to join the campaign or provide assistance and advice to each other. In this environment, even small developments can attract thousands of objections.
So, for the developer what’s the answer? There are a few fundamentals to get right:
Get your message right and simple – to cut through any potential anti campaign you need to have clear and compelling message of the benefits you’ll deliver
Reach the right people first – brief your key local and political stakeholders early to ensure if anything does leak, you’ve had a chance to form key opinion right from the outset
Engage meaningfully – working with the community from an early stage will help build a local consensus for your plans and means you won’t have to run them into hiding and the Embassy of Ecuador
Build public support – online tools can empower supporters as well as objectors – an active presence online is vital for ensuring the silent majority of supporters is not silent
PS: I promised you something on Jeremy Corbyn, so here it is. Jeremy will win tomorrow’s Labour leadership. It’ll upset a lot of people in the Labour Party, who will find it difficult to unite behind their new leader. Labour will be riven with internal splits, plots and counter plots. It’ll remind you of Labour under Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown…