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  • 4 minutes
  • 06/07/2020

First Base: Unlocking social value

First Base is a developer that really gets social value. From planning right through design and construction, it integrates social value throughout real estate development.

First Base logoA real estate developer that really does put social value first

First Base is a developer that really gets social value. From planning right through design and construction of its striking mixed-use buildings, the company has come up with a way to integrate social value in real estate development – all with the help of Social Value Portal.

We have been working with First Base for years, findings ways to create the right social value strategy for each development. The company is behind many successful schemes, including Edward Street Quarter in Brighton and The Soapworks in Bristol. There are both great examples of how a focus on social value can help create a world where people can flourish.

From the top: Identifying local needs

Our work begins with a local needs analysis to make sure a project is starting off on the right foot. We helped First Base to really understand local policies, as well as spot signs of deprivation and opportunities to create community partnerships.

Take The Soapworks, for example. Findings showed the importance of supporting and partnering with BAME and immigrant communities. Similarly, in Brighton, we found lots of community challenges surrounding the Edward Street Quarter site relating to poor health and a lack of suitable jobs.

What next? We kickstarted a series of community consultations – a big task for a real estate developer to chew, but we provided all the support. Our team attended events to speak to stakeholders and met with councillors and community leaders to really understand local needs. To First Base, this approach made all the difference.

“It is important to us that any social value delivered is tangible, needs-based and developed in collaboration with communities”

“It is important to us that any social value delivered is tangible, needs-based and developed in collaboration with communities,” Liam Ronan-Chlond, Stakeholder and External Relations at First Base, said. “That is why we are committed to adopting the Social Value Portal’s approach on all major developments.”

Springing to action

Here comes the bit that sounds complicated: mapping the results of the needs analysis and consultations against a measurement framework for the site. Really, this isn’t too complicated and Social Value Portal provided all the support. It means finding a way to quantify how much social value could be generated by meeting each need.

For the Soapworks, we were even able to use the measurement framework created for Bristol City Council to join the dots more thoroughly. We ensured First Bases’s priorities were aligned with those of the local area.

From this work came targets. We looked at all the phases of each project – construction, site management and the stage when everyone moves in – to plot how much social and local value could reach the local community.

All this information was poured into a Social Value planning statement. This wonderful document goes in with a planning application, showing all the commitments that First Base was going to make and all the steps they would take to ensure their all businesses in their supply chain aim for similar commitments.

“For First Base, embedding an approach to social value from the outset of any project is fundamental,” Liam said.

“Developing a social value strategy for our planning applications is the best way to ensure that we can maximise the social, economic and environmental value generated throughout the lifecycle of our developments.”

What comes next? Construction…

But before a spade hits the sand comes a long design process. During this stage, we helped First Base to make sure that the project was designed to maximise opportunities for social interaction and creating social value. Once construction of Edward Street Quarter began, First Base picked a partner that was also using Social Value Portal to measure social value – a handy move!

Construction is a long process, with many moving parts. Throughout, First Base worked hard to only work with partners that shared their dedication to adding social value for the local community. And once the building was in use, work began to engage the businesses and residents who call the property home.

Social value might sound like a mouthful, but First Base has shown that embedding it from the word go makes all the difference. And, of course, so does making the most of support from Social Value Portal.

Download the case study