Higher Newham Farm


Higher Newham Farm and Village project is a plan to breathe life back into a former farm by creating an educational community farm and a thriving Cornish village. The pioneering project is a ground-breaking partnership between Duchy College, Cornwall Food Foundation and housing developer, Living Villages. By bringing together the worlds of farming, food, education and living, the plan is to create a small village on a working community farm that feels as though it belongs. The proposals will reinvigorate 92 acres of farmland on the edge of Truro, Cornwall, and the aim is to create an exemplar development that will be nationally significant, and then replicate this approach to creating sustainable communities elsewhere.

The Challenge

The site had contentious history in terms of planning, after an application for 1,020 houses on the land was over turned by Eric Pickles, who was the Minister in charge of the Department of Communities and Local Government at the time. It is a large greenfield site on the edge of the city with views over an AONB and the idea of building on it was controversial. Fresh was contacted to help provide advice and support in terms of social media strategy and stakeholder engagement.

The Activity

Fresh carried out the following:

  • Develop a detailed social media strategy aimed at building a personality for the project and garnering support for the application
  • Carried out a ‘Stakeholder Mapping’ process and created a segmented database of people and organisations to engage with about the project
  • Ran a letters campaign that involved identifying potential high profile supporters for the project, approaching / briefing them on Higher Newham Farm and liaise with them to draft and send individual letters of support to the Cornwall County Council planning team and relevant Cornwall Councillors
  • Hold a series of one-on-one and organisational briefings about the project
  • Attend a number of relevant events with a stand regarding the project and engage with the public about the plans – and where possible get people to fill in supportive postcards that were submitted to the planning team
  • Help to run a ‘Village Fete’ event on the site so that people could attend and find out all about the aims of the project in situ, helping them to really visualise what the end result could be like
  • Run small scale drop-in sessions in key parishes to answer questions on the plans
  • Ran social media campaign to prompted people to submit comments on the planning portal
  • Provide advice on PR and media engagement
  • Provide input and feedback on ‘Higher Newham News’ – a newspaper-style newsletter sent to key postcodes in Truro
  • Provide input and feedback on a DVD about the plans that was sent to all members of the Strategic Planning Committee

The Outcome

  • The engagement activity that was carried out helped to secure a huge amount of public support for the project
  • 523 public comments on the application submitted to the planning portal – only 6 of these were neutral and only 3 were objections
  • Over 850 liked the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/highernewham
  • 28 letters of support secured from high profile individuals and key organisations
  • The depth and breadth of the public consultation was acknowledged by the planning committee

The initial application was refused due to traffic and highways concerns. However a slightly revised application was successful – due in part to the high amount of public support for the project.

Period of Fresh involvement: July-December 2015


“From the start Fresh got the brief. They saw what we needed to do with the PR and stakeholder engagement around the Higher Newham Farm and Village project and had clear ideas about how we could get there. But they were equally able to flex and bend to the needs of the project and to the ideas of the wider project team – a necessary skill given the nature of the job!

“Planning, delivery, timing – Abby had it all sorted. But perhaps what was most special for me as project manager is that Fresh quickly stopped feeling like an outside PR agency, and became part of the team. Getting to know things inside out – which was immensely valuable to me and to the project as a whole. My experience of Abby and Lisa is that they do their job brilliantly just because they love doing everything in life to the full. They’re bright, quick, savvy and a joy to work with. Perhaps most importantly, they get on with the job and they get the results.”

Vicky Garner - Project Coordinator, Higher Newham Farm

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