Bridging the gap: How planning can (and should) kickstart your sales

Lisa Flounders, managing director

The majority of developers in 2024 appreciate the benefits of a comprehensive and committed engagement process. Land and planning teams seem to have – mostly – moved on from the days of a rainy Saturday afternoon spent in the local parish church, doing not much else just to tick the planning consultation box.

We advocate for meaningful, real consultation that empowers your community network to shape the places that they will live and work in, and visit. A good community consultation strategy targets a wide demographic using a mix of tools and tactics to engage people of all backgrounds and interests. A great strategy reflects the importance of authenticity to build trust and deliver a scheme which truly represents its community. An exceptional strategy looks even further into the future and knows who your buyers will be from day one.

Community consultation is long and often expensive work, and when it’s done well, it doesn’t just mean an approved planning application. It means goodwill towards the developer, positive brand awareness, firm links with a community network of potential buyers and brand ambassadors, and crucially, a serious head start for the marketing team.

The advantages of a joined-up approach are not to be underestimated. Yet it is still so common for sales and marketing teams to take on a new scheme and start from scratch. Databases of interested residents – who bought into the benefits of a proposed scheme and asked to find out more – are lost…and so are some strong early sales leads.

There are simple steps that can be taken in the early days. Include a ‘register your interest’ box on your sign-up sheets for your community exhibitions for example (make sure your data policies cover you for marketing materials as well as construction updates). Bring in your marketing teams to help with the design and branding of your consultation materials; this will establish early brand identity years in advance and means when you do start selling, local people know exactly who you are and what you stand for. Build open and working relationships with local media from the outset – the time you spend will be worth it later on. A continuation of the investment made during the planning application stage will only strengthen your ties with the community in which you are delivering homes…and with the local authorities and statutory stakeholders.

Not rocket science, but what a difference it can make.

Our preferred approach is always a smooth and seamless community engagement journey from planning right through to completion, and we can create and execute an outreach strategy that does this for your scheme from day one. Many agencies understand the political landscape, the intricacies and policies of planning application processes and formal community consultation; many others understand how to market and sell homes using great PR. We know how to do both.  


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