Benlowndes

a perspective on PR in social housing and regeneration

Cashes Green consultation puts localism into action

I returned from the Easter break today to the good news that a planning application to transform the derelict Cashes Green Hospital in Stroud into new homes and community facilities has been submitted to the local planning authority to consider.

I blogged in January about the impressive level of consultation that had gone into shaping the proposals that have been submitted to Stroud District Council. Hundreds of people living near the site have been engaged, through attending the regular consultation events, having newsletters sent to their home or reading the dozens of media articles that have reported on the plans in recent months. In many ways the consultation led by Hab Oakus, a joint venture led by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud and GreenSquare Group, has been textbook stuff.

As Kevin said in the media announcement we put out today: “The consultations we held with local people revealed a great deal about the site – how people remembered the old hospital and how they valued the orchard trees and former allotments. Those views altered what we did and so the plans we’re submitting keep the old three-storey building on the site and the lodge.

“We will be also be reusing materials that we’re salvaging from existing buildings, and leaving some of the structures standing as memorable ‘archaeology’. We’ve already conducted a survey of fruiting trees and are creating a haven for slow worms on the site now.

“The most exciting news is that we’re going to be able to bring the allotments back into use this spring – many months before we even begin work on the adjacent hospital site – using a temporary separate entrance.” 

So the comments people have taken the trouble to make at the consultation, about keeping the hospital building and allotment space, have made a difference. This is good to see and exciting for the HCA, which owns the site and has been keen to see local people involved in shaping the plans. This is one of the reasons why the Community Land Trust Gloucestershire Land for People has been involved in the proposals for affordable housing on the site, and will continue to be a key partner after the homes are built.

Whatever happens at the planning committee in a few weeks, I take my hat off to those involved in bringing a fine example of localism in action to life in a vivid way. Some emails I have seen from local residents in the last few days suggest that the effort to engage them has been worthwhile.

I hope to be able to share some media coverage of our latest announcement soon. In the meantime, below are some images (courtesy of  Hab Oakus) of how the scheme could look along with a photo of Kevin McCloud at the last consultation event in January.

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