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How to… deliver social value through new housing

The social value act is empowering local councils to develop housing that with greater social and environmental value, as Jamie Hailstone reports.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published a new guide to help developers and local authorities deliver social value in new developments.

The guide, Social Value in New Developments, looks at how social value can be provided in three key areas – jobs and economic growth; health, wellbeing and the environment; and strength of community.

It notes that social value is ‘not understood in a consistent way’ by different local authorities and developers.

‘There is a general lack of understanding of the potential social value of high quality development and the scope of outcomes that can be achieved from new development,’ the report states.

‘There is sometimes a lack of knowledge on how to develop strategies that will embed social value across new developments.’

It adds that creating or improving social value in new developments does not always require additional capital and many ‘opportunities can be realised without an additional cost and can create financial value’.

‘Local authorities may be concerned that any stringent targets they set will lead to investment going elsewhere,’ the report states.

‘Where this is the case local authorities need to work together to drive up standards. Progressive developers will welcome this approach as it will improve consistency and create a more level playing field.’

The guide adds that many recent bids from developers for council-owned land show that progressive local authorities are increasingly using their powers to specify social value outcomes in the conditions of sale.

‘Local authorities also have an opportunity here to prioritise bids where the developer has some continuity of ownership during occupation, as this will positively in influence the social value outcomes of the site.’

It adds the 2012 social value act has empowered local authorities to drive higher standards in the construction phase, with councils now giving social value a weighting in tender submissions.

‘Typical weightings being used to assess tender submissions are 10-15%, with some councils such as Hounslow and Manchester setting a minimum weighting of 20%’, the report says.

Where the local authority is not the landowner, councils must use the planning system to ensure developments are delivered in the interests of the public good, it says.

The guide was one of two launched by the Green Building Council at an event earlier this week in Bristol.

The other guide, the Housing Standards Playbook, looks at how councils can increase the sustainability of new homes through policy.

‘Raising the bar on standards for new homes and tackling energy and climate change are fundamental to delivering the high-quality, efficient, and healthy new homes we need,’ said UKGBC’s chief executive, Julie Hirigoyen.

‘Sustainable development can deliver a wide range of benefits not only to residents, but to communities and cities at large.

‘This comes through boosting local economies and quality of life through activities such as: providing jobs and apprenticeships; upgrading social and community facilities; and driving health and wellbeing through the provision of nature and green space,’ added Ms Hirigoyen.

‘We hope that these resources can help drive further collaboration between local authorities and developers to deliver truly sustainable development.’

  • To read the new guide, Social Value in New Developments, click here.

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