Vita Comment Digital
Vita Group's consultation for its second tower at Water Street has moved online

Developers pivot to digital engagement

Chloé Vaughan

Vita Group and the Far East Consortium were today holding online consultation and sales launches as part of an emerging trend of developers going virtual in line with social distancing advice from the Government.

Vita Group’s consultation for its second tower at Water Street in Manchester was due to be held today between 3pm and 7pm at the Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel.

The displays boards were presented in PDF for the consultation through a link on Vita Group’s website. There is an option to submit comments and ask questions.

The developer reveals more details of its co-living towers, due to be delivered under its Union brand. The taller, 36-storey tower would have 62 four-bedroom quads, 124 three-bedroom trios, and 186 studio apartments. The other tower is proposed to be 32 storeys tall.

In the documents, Vita Group explains that subject to the outcome of the consultation, it intends to submit a planning application in April. Vita Group expects to begin work in early 2022 for a completion by 2024.

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FEC’s sales launch of its New Cross Central development in Manchester’s Ancoats, which was supposed to also be a physical event today, has moved online.

Hilary Brett, FEC project director, said the developer understood that not all of its prospective customers would be able to attend. FEC and its investment broker BuyAsssociation will host a virtual event instead. People who initially emailed to sign up to attend the consultation, will now be sent a link to attend an online.

Sam Hadfield, managing director of BuyAssociation, said: “With advice and travel recommendations changing daily due to the virus, it seemed sensible to make this event inclusive for local buyers that cannot attend.”

People who register for the digital launch will receive a price list of the homes available, along with brochures, digital assets, and a video of what would have been on show at the physical event.

BuyAssociation will be taking calls and video meetings from 2pm to ‘walk’ people through the sites and provide information.

Bruntwood and Trafford Council’s consultation to unveil the vision for Streford Mall, which was due to be held on Saturday, has now been cancelled.

Andrew Cooke, Regional Director for Manchester at Bruntwood Works, and Richard Roe, Corporate Director of Place at Trafford Council, said: “After careful consideration and following the latest advice from Government regarding the response to coronavirus (COVID-19) to avoid gatherings and crowded places, we are postponing the event regarding Stretford Mall, the wider Stretford Masterplan and Area Action Plan.”

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One possible silver lining of the pandemic is that it may fast-track the digitisation of planning which will ultimately lead to more public involvement and a greater understanding of the planning system.

By SillyGoose

As a consultation practitioner with private practice and as an Associate with The Consultation Institute, digital engagement and consultation is something which has been in place for many years – albeit to a differing extent across sectors, and increasingly so under the current circumstances. Government, Local Authorities and many consultants in this field already provide digital platforms but these are just ONE of a range of methods through which engagement and consultation should be achieved – as is best practice. Clearly the current situation is prompting a shift to digital, but to engage all stakeholders and stakeholder groups a RANGE of methods – online, offline, telephone etc. should be implemented and included in any engagement and consultation plan.

By Ruth Shepherd