Head of Engagement at Socius, Liam Ronan-Chlond was recently invited to be a guest on international law firm, Charles Russell Speechlys podcast series, alongside Guy Battle, CEO of Social Value Portal, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of creating social value through property development.
Hosted by Kerry Stares, Partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, the three sustainability leaders discussed what creating social value actually means, how property developers can measure and manage it, what developers are already doing to create value and where more progress is needed. Liam and Guy also unpack the business case around how creating, investing in and measuring social vale helps developers to:
- Strengthen planning applications.
- Unlock cheaper debt finance.
- Attract the best talent.
- Support communities to become more prosperous and resilient.
Kicking off the podcast, Guy explains that the terminology around social impact and social value is interchangeable with, in this instance, both describing the wider contribution that a new development can have on the local community.
Exploring what developers are already doing well, Liam explains: “When the public services act was initially introduced, it was very much seen as a public sector procurement process. However, since then it has increasingly been embraced by developers, because they realise it’s something tangible that can be used to demonstrate to communities and local authorities the impact that can be delivered, not just through expected outcomes but additional value too.”
Both Liam and Guy agree that the crucial opportunity for developers is in demonstrating accountability, by measuring social value, and maximising it throughout the entire life cycle of a project; from acquisition, planning, construction and right through to operation. It enables developers to set targets; declare these targets and then demonstrate the impact they have.
Liam says that social value is the responsibility of the entire company, and beyond that, Socius is even looking at its supply chain, encouraging the organisations that it works with to ‘do more good’.
It’s not just about the value it has on local communities either, says Kerry, asking why social value is important from a commercial perspective too?
Guy explains that there are three core elements to the business case around social value:
- More local authorities are expecting more developers to provide a social value offer, which goes much further than section 106.
- For an organisation, social value becomes part of its brand identity, giving it a purpose and helping to attract and retain talent.
- From a developer/owner perspective, by investing in a community, that community becomes stronger, more resilient, wealthier; resulting in land prices increasing, greater availability of the right type of jobs, the property value in the area goes up, and as a result so do rental prices, all of which makes absolute business sense.
The final word on the podcast comes from Liam who concludes that: “social value is a mindset, it’s about committing to making a long-term investment and creating a more positive future.”
Listen to more insight and information from Liam and Guy and catch up on the full podcast here.