First Base attended a discussion hosted by our partners, London First and Aecom, exploring how the capital can deliver not just more homes, but also increase social value. We were joined by representatives from across the built environment sector, including housebuilders, investors and local government.
One of First Base’s core philosophies, as a leading mixed-use developer, is that placemaking means much more than just bricks and mortar. It’s people who really make a place.
That’s why First Base work in partnership, with councils and communities, right from the start of any project.
The importance of partnerships as a driver of delivery was emphasised by Barking & Dagenham Leader and London Councils Housing Lead, Darren Rodwell, who passionately explained that more development was required to match the recent growth of London’s economy and population. He quite rightly explained that the only way this ambitious growth in delivery could be achieved was through effective partnerships between developers and councils.
First Base have worked in partnership with councils across London. For instance, we are currently set to deliver new homes, workspace, a new school and health services in Romford, with the London Borough of Havering.
Building partnerships with local government is of course important, but often that’s the easy part. It is building a trusting relationship with communities that can prove more difficult.
You can understand why. We discussed how local communities have often felt like development has been done to them, rather than with them. However, despite this, demand for new homes, workspace, public services and infrastructure in London continues to increase dramatically.
The room agreed that the economic, environmental and community benefits of development must be better understood by local communities, if delivery is to be in any way significantly improved.
How can this be done?
For First Base, we build trust with communities by bringing them on board as key partners from the outset.
In order to deliver social value, we work with communities to better understand unique local issues, so that we can respond tangibly, by improving specific local outcomes, from employment to health and wellbeing.
Throughout the discussion, we also spoke about how local residents should be able to better experience the benefits of developments themselves, economically, environmentally and socially. This means through new jobs and business opportunities; greener, safer and more welcoming public space; and locally-inspired public art, produced in collaboration with the community, embracing local heritage and identity.
The discussion raised some great examples of social value done well. However, we were all agreed that social value should be part of a long-term, sustainable commitment to the local communities we develop in; not just a short-term PR stunt.
For First Base, investing in social value represents proper placemaking; working in partnership to deliver genuine long-term benefits for all.
We look forward to seeing how better partnerships can deliver more high-quality places for people to live, work and play in the capital; whilst also delivering more sustainable benefits for the wider community.
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