Cambourne group in major PR offensive

The Cambourne Consortium – comprised of house builders Bovis Homes, Bryant Homes and George Wimpy – has boosted its comms spend as it prepares to face a public inquiry into its proposal to build an extra 1,700 homes in the community, west of Cambridge.

Media interest in housing is high following this month’s Barker Review of Housing Supply that highlighted the need for additional housing.

The consortium has responded to opposition to the proposal by reappointing Phoenix to launch a media relations assault starting on 1 April. The public inquiry reports on 22 April, with a decision due in November.

Phoenix, which has held the PR account since work in Cambourne began six years ago, was handed an extended £300,000 remit following a pitch that in addition to PR includes advertising, media and sponsorship.

The consortium has increased its annual PR spend from £30,000 to £170,000. Phoenix will also team up with Regester Larkin to handle a crisis communications and lobbying campaign using local and national media.

Phoenix PR director Clare Methven said the consortium will use regional radio, press and TV to build positive feelings among local residents and convince authorities about the benefits of the building scheme. She said it would take advantage of sponsorship deals with local radio station Q103.

Work on Cambourne, nine miles west of Cambridge, began in 1998 but the consortium wants to increase the number of houses from 3,300 to 5,044.

Groups such as Transport 2000, the Council for the Protection of Rural England and some residents have voiced opposition to the plans.

Methven said the majority of the PR spend will be allocated for the run-up to areview of the proposal, but activity will continue until November’s decision.

She said national media would be used to target potential homebuyers across the UK.

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