New Havant Thicket Reservoir
Carrying out a key public consultation on plans to build the first new reservoir in decades in the face of the unprecedented lockdown triggered by Covid-19 was the challenge facing the Create 51 team working on the Havant Thicket Reservoir project for Portsmouth Water.
Artist’s impression of the future Havant Thicket reservoir.
The progression of the consultation was critical to support the development and submission of planning applications for the new reservoir and pipeline, which are on a critical timeline to help neighbouring Southern Water meet its legal commitments to reduce abstraction from the internationally-rare Hampshire chalk streams, the River Itchen and River Test.
Led by Director Rebecca Burgess and Joel Hufford, Senior Communications Consultant, they needed to quickly find a way to effectively consult during a pandemic (at the same time as keeping everyone safe) to keep the £120 million reservoir project on track.
An overwhelming part of the solution was to get creative with existing technology to develop an imaginative approach and reach people at home and enable them to have their say, in a way and at a time which suited them. This included:
- Creating an online ‘virtual exhibition’, with videos, web-based comment boards and
- maps and interactive mock-ups of the reservoir
- Running live webinars for the public with the project team
- Using `Bang the Table’ website software to develop and offer a one-stop-consultation online platform.
The consultation and subsequent publication of a ‘You said, we did’ report, detailing responses and subsequent updates to the plans, were instrumental in supporting the final planning applications, which were given the go-ahead by local authorities this summer.
In addition, Create 51 played a critical role in supporting the planning application and determination process, liaising closely with the local authority planning teams to deliver ‘virtual’ site visits during lockdowns and hosting online briefing sessions for the local authorities.
The project’s engagement was so successful it won the Best Practice Stakeholder Engagement award in the CIEEM Awards 2021 (https://cieem.net/about-cieem/cieem-awards/awards-2021/)