Delivering homes for London – with citizens at their heart
3 December 2019
Since the introduction of the Social Value Act in 2012, public authorities have been required to ensure that policy or spending decisions they make have a positive economic, social and environmental impact on the communities they serve.
In the latest London First roundtable to look at a new era of partnership working between the public and private sectors, a gathering of industry leaders discussed what this means for the delivery of the 65,000 homes a year that London needs. What should be done to ensure that the social impact of a development meets the needs of the community, whilst remaining viable for the developer to deliver?
Place the citizen at the heart of development Everything has to start from the perspective of the end user. London did it a century ago, and if we do it again, with the citizen at the heart, then growth of the local economy will follow. We need to create a process which connects all stakeholders – central government, local authorities, developers, investment funds, consultants, as well as residents – to establish a collective, cross party approach that will grow communities that work for London. Connect the sub regions to encourage a collegiate approach. Should we be partnering with surrounding authorities, to support the growth of garden communities and help relocate residents who want to move outside of London?
It’s more than a number-based exercise In order to understand the impact of social value, do we simply quote some figures for each project delivered? Social value needs to be quantified but it is also a long-term commitment, not a one-time tick box exercise. The focus should be on the community’s journey, and the intrinsic benefit that will be reaped by local businesses.
Clear Communication Social value has been spoken about as a way of building trust between developers, local authorities and communities, however it is not always understood. We need to do the basics well – too often, both the public and private sector fail to tell the story well enough on what is already successful.
Communicate clearly the tangible benefits development brings and how it aligns with the growth of the local community as well as the wider city. Embrace local residents and provide a platform to enable the ‘hidden voices’ of the community to dispel tensions. For regeneration schemes, form a residents’ alliance and allocate locals representation at development board level to support communication and community ownership of new developments.
One voice: a London-focused framework A policy framework that draws upon the shared experience of key representatives from both public and private sectors, to create a ‘one voice’ approach. This will establish a consensus that focuses on shared goals and the basis for monitoring the impact of long-term social value on both the community and the individual. Learn from countries such as Germany and those in Scandinavia, or cities closer to home, such as Leeds, to apply best practice guidelines – tailored for London.
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