The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 was implemented in January 2013. It’s already widely used within public sector procurement to build stronger and deeper relationships with suppliers and deliver more value to local communities. However, the Act is not yet being used within the planning process and as a result, communities are missing out on opportunities that could arise. On the 1st March 2017 a group of practitioners representing organisations from across the industry met to develop a path for Integrating Social Value into Planning.
- Planners should ensure that there is a direct link between the Council’s social value policies, planning policies and procurement. Councils should also consider how they can expand their ‘Supplementary Planning Guidance’ on sustainable design to secure adherence to their local social value policies.
- Councils should ensure that Social Value is referenced within the local plan policy and explicitly linked to new developments to ensure that the community and social factors are considered.
- Developers should consider expanding their basic ‘Sustainability Statements’ to set out their commitment to delivering Social Value.
- Developers should submit Social Value frameworks that calculate the equivalent financial gain created by a development. This helps local planners and members understand its potential wider socio-economic benefits whilst negotiating better outcomes for local communities.
- Asset Owners should include commitments supporting ongoing community engagements and identify their changing needs to continually improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the community within which the development is to occur.
Significant community value could be generated by including social value within a planning application. Members of the planning committee may consider the broader social value generated by a development when considering whether to consent for a particular project. However, introducing items of added Social Value into a s106 agreement that cannot be justified in planning terms must be very carefully considered. Developers should not presume that s106 contributions may be offset by broader social value contributions, rather social value should be an additional benefit that will ease the burden of a development upon a community and ultimately lead to greater resilience and wellbeing.