Case studies

Camden Market
(for LabTech)

Opyn’s MD, Ralph Scott, was commissioned by LabTech, the owners of Camden Market, to develop a new brand vision and communications strategy for the world-famous retail, leisure, and cultural destination. The challenge was to unlock regulatory challenges and secure greater commercial flexibility for the market.

The starting point for the campaign was to root it in the Market’s rich history, culture, and community of 1,000+ market traders. The strategy was to align the Market’s brand vision with Camden’s political and community priorities, linking its economic potential with its ability to deliver real social impact.

A true team effort with LabTech and Ed Watson Associates, we crafted an authentic vision, founded on clear principles that resonated with the market’s identity and values. The draft vision was then rigorously tested and refined with a programme of stakeholder focus groups and soundings.

Ralph’s storytelling skills played a central role in creating a powerful vision document that presented the market’s unique narrative, engaged with Camden’s key policies and political priorities, and was capable of winning broad support from the community.

Wessex Sub-national Secure Data Environment
(for University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust)

Ralph, Opyn’s MD, is the communications lead for Wessex’s Sub-National Secure Data Environment (SNSDE). This is a complex NHS project to make personal health data available for R&D, on a secure platform where researchers in the NHS and its partners can create data-driven improvements in healthcare.

It is a major collaboration sponsored by the Department of Health & Social Care and NHS England. It includes Wessex Health Partners, two Integrated Care Systems, all of the universities, NHS Trusts, and the Academic Health Science Network in the Wessex the region, covering a population of more than 5 million people.

To be successful the project must build this public’s trust in, and support for the Wessex SNSDE’s ability to handle sensitive data safely and ethically. There must also be confidence in the governance of the programme. Citizen engagement is the basis of building this trust and therefore a key challenge for the project.

Ralph and Opyn developed the citizen engagement strategy that meets this challenge. The programme involves an extensive programme of stakeholder engagement, educational activities, and deliberative dialogue with citizens to involve them in co-design and governance of the project. This will be supported by a website, and a full range of publicity and media relations activities.

Vinegar Yard
(for CIT Group)

Vinegar Yard is CIT Group’s major mixed use commercial and healthcare building on St Thomas Street, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) and located just to the south of London Bridge Station in Southwark. Ralph led a five-year public affairs campaign to secure planning consent for the scheme, gaining approval from Mayor Sadiq Khan in February 2022.

The 20-storey commercial development scheme faced unprecedented challenges: the site was one of four coming forward at the same time on St Thomas Street, all opposed by active and well-organised local residents. Developed in a challenging policy and political environment, the key to success was a clear social value proposition for CIT and a coordinated approach to physical and social regeneration across the four sites.

Taking up the masterplanning challenge, Ralph worked with KPF to create the ‘St Thomas Street East Design Framework’. The Framework is now the shared vision of Greystar, Edge, CIT Group and Sellar for the physical, social, and economic regeneration of their four sites; it was highly commended at the New London Architecture Awards 2019. Ralph also created ‘The Bermondsey Pledge’ to capture the commitment from the four developers to invest in social action, including jobs, apprenticeships, and educational opportunities.

Ralph led public consultation on the masterplan strategies and ensured the four schemes were aligned with political and policy priorities. He also helped broker partnerships to ensure that the social value proposition was underpinned by a credible delivery agent.With the masterplan in place, consent for CIT’s Vinegar Yard site was founded on the scheme’s social value proposition. Ralph worked hard with CIT to engineer a scheme with real, tangible and relatable benefits and communicate these to political and community audiences.

These included a major employment partnership with GoodPeople connecting over 300 people to local employment; the largest genuinely affordable workspace for artists in central London with Southwark Studios (held up as an exemplar by the GLA); incubator space for healthcare start-up businesses with Guy’s & ST Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust; and a community space at peppercorn rent.

Critical to success was the relationship with Guy’s & St Thomas’. Ralph helped introduce CIT and KPF to the Trust and their emerging ‘Adaptable Estate Standard’ for new development, which was adopted for the scheme. Working with the Trust and the emerging SC1 Life Science District we then positioned the scheme as a key critical part of their vision for the London Bridge campus.

KPF’s expertise and life science experience resulted in a ground-breaking and highly sustainable scheme with 370,000 sqft of flexible commercial space for NHS clinical uses, offices and co-locating life science research companies. Endorsements Ralph secured from leading figures in London healthcare then helped secure a resounding win for CIT at their GLA hearing.

Future Skills campaign
(for Kingston University)

Before founding Opyn Consulting, Ralph led the 2021 “Future Skills League Table” campaign for Kingston University to influence the Government’s skills agenda, targeting BEIS and DfE.

The University is a UK leader in the arts and creative disciplines. Its objective was to tackle a Government narrative that cast creative subjects as ‘low value’, to influence funding levels, and to position the University as a thought leader and key influencer.

The strategy fused YouGov polling insights, partnerships, cultural advocacy, media and government relations skills. Working with Creative UK and businesses like Mastercard we commissioned polling that showed the value of creative degrees to industry. We created the Future Skills League Table report and successfully launched it to media and stakeholders.

The result: we secured senior political engagement, Radio 4 Today programme coverage and a Radio 4 debate panellist role for the University’s Vice-Chancellor. It drove engagement with ministers, MPs, civil servants and think tanks from across the political spectrum, boosting the University’s reputation and influence. It has become a regular campaign platform for them, with an update of the research published in 2022.