We were appointed by the Wellcome Trust to deliver a comprehensive stakeholder engagement and community consultation programme to support two office sites on Pelham Street, which are part of their South Kensington Estate.

Approved in 2021, the plans will deliver a new office building at 63-81 Pelham Street, with the demolition of the existing outdated building. At 40 Pelham Street one of the buildings will be retained and refurbished, whilst the second will be demolished and replaced with a new building.

Our role

We advised early engagement with stakeholders to ensure politicians were briefed and residents felt engaged and included in the process. This helped to establish positive relationships early on and ensure the rationale for bringing forward the redevelopment was clearly understood.

We undertook a thorough review of the Wellcome Trust’s existing relationships with key stakeholders and created an extensive database, tiered by importance. This was used to manage engagement, with meetings set up in stages according to tiers and relationships tracked. After submission this was developed into an advocacy tracker as part of our strategy to build support.

Approach to engagement

Political engagement

Throughout the pre-application stage we met and briefed the ward councillors and MP, as well as the Lead Member for Planning and Transport and Chair of the Planning Applications Committee, which enabled us to talk in more detail about how concerns were being addressed. This was critical in the lead up to committee as we were able to provide reassurance on key issues and cut through the misinformation being promoted by the opposition.

Focus Group

This engagement built on work that the Wellcome Trust had already started with local stakeholders through Quarterly Forums on wider estate issues. A Focus Group was established from the Quarterly Forum membership to talk specifically about the Pelham Street proposals. The meetings swiftly followed each pre-application meeting and provided the opportunity to share the evolving plans at each key stage, which was well received by councillors and residents who valued the transparent and timely engagement.

Targeted stakeholder meetings

In addition to the Focus Group meetings, we held a number of meetings with near neighbours to discuss their specific concerns. These meetings provided a clear understanding of concerns and enabled the Wellcome Trust to amend the plans, where reasonable, to address amenity issues (overlooking, privacy and noise) or explain why this was not viable in cases where requests could not be accommodated.