Once considered a toxic asset; now a valuable development – a Cornish Tale

A history of poorly considered schemes, lack of joined up thinking, no consensus, a newly imposed UNESCO WHS inscription and sky rocketing costs.

ING had stepped in to prevent further losses at Hayle Harbour in Cornwall and to try and salvage some kind of development value.

The situation had been further complicated by a world heritage inscription that effectively sterilised any chance of larger development.

Worse still emerging reports prompted three competing food store plans, which would have diverted any future development away from ING site and effectively ended the chance of regeneration.

The only way forward was to somehow get agreement from politicians, stakeholders, commercial interests, consultees and communities that the ING scheme was the only scheme.

We were not helped that management of the harbour was historically very weak. The site had been basically being stripped of assets. In short the harbour had become a liability, which ING wanted rid of, but they needed some form of return at disposal, but the sale would be extremely restricted. Action needed to be taken to stop losses, reduce costs and rebuild exceptional value

By breaking down all the elements of what was required to achieve support into smaller parts -what we call engagement ux [EUX] we developed working channels in each specific area and then set about working closely with each channel. At one stage 15 channels were in operation. Then by carefully working through issues offline we were able to start to create a route map to how to achieve consensus.

Once the route map was developed we could then look to achieve support in each area and reduce the impact of negative voices by managing solutions which the groups felt would progress matters and be beneficial for the town.

The final and most important stage was to cement the support generated into a cohesive enough rebuttal to counterpoint Historic England, ICOMOS and UNESCO who were opposed to the plans. Cornwall had to believe in the plan but so to did Government Ministers

This relied on the work we had undertaken being robust enough to win over senior politicians and officials in Westminster.

UNESCO clearly felt they had not been heard and subsequently issued some dire threats to ourselves and Cornwall. A lot of changes in WHS management were made at Cornwall as a result of this case study and we adopted new approaches ourselves. But the EUX principles of transparency, visibility and involvement are still at the core of what we do.