Cratus Communities’ flagship site is a 2000-home ‘Garrison to Garden Village’ development in Berkshire. The team was introduced with the goal of bringing together the existing residents in the historical military housing and residents moving into the new builds, alongside managing local PR and supporting engagement with future planning applications in mind. The developer wanted their new residents to buy into a strong community onsite, whilst the existing residents needed to feel welcomed into this new, wider community, preserving their military history whilst disruptive construction works changed the landscape around them.
The team’s original scope of work did not include any reference to a Community Centre, but when this was handed over to the developer to manage, the team took over the booking system and promotion of the centre and have now turned it from an empty old Army building to an asset recognised and used by the whole community.
In arriving on site, Cratus Communities have replaced five agencies to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for local communications and engagement through the construction phase. They have well-established relationships with the councillors and other key stakeholders so the community has a place to direct enquiries through a site inbox, well-attended Community Liaison Group and regular 1:1 meetings. The former Leader of the Council stated that her inbox was full of issues from other developments, but she had none for this site.
Through this central community coordination role, the team have been able to lead the developer team through its first Traveller incursion and supported the creation of new protocols to enable them to better cope in the case of similar incidents.
They have worked with the community to create an Events Committee which has brought new and existing residents together and is working towards becoming self-sustaining. The committee have held numerous successful events, and are well on their way to become self-funding as the popularity of their annual events calendar grows.
The Communities’ team have managed several PR initiatives to gain positive local press coverage for the site, such as a ‘Design your own Speed Limit’ sign competition at the secondary school and a monthly café and pop-up library in the community centre.
Through a reputation for quick responses to inbox enquiries, regular door-knocking, an up to date website and seasonal print newsletters, as well as monthly drop-in sessions, the team have positioned themselves at the very heart of this developing community. Trusted by existing residents, the consortium development partners, local authorities and councillors, community groups and management company, the Cratus Communities team is the first port of call for all connected to this community.