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The Value of Community – Building a Legacy

Posted: 9th December 2019

Ashley Wheaton
University College of Estate Management

Ashley Wheaton, Principal of University College of Estate Management, explores how sustainable housing developments high in social capital not only deliver a better quality of life for residents, but also increase land and property values too.

Who wouldn’t want to live in a community with high ‘social value’? Somewhere that positively impacts on health and wellbeing, that sources local building materials, delivers employment opportunities, has good air quality and provides a platform for local businesses to thrive.

Sustainable development is not a new idea, but climate and human geography issues have brought it sharply into focus.

In 2012 The Social Value Act placed a formal requirement on public sector organisations to consider the economic, social and environmental benefits for communities, as well as the overall cost when awarding contracts. This is only going to become more important in choosing development partners.

Research shows that sustainable development does not have to affect profit. In fact, the developments with higher social capital are the ones retaining their value and proving more resilient to the local market compared to their neighbouring developments. As well as these developments making higher than average profit, they also provide residents with a strong sense of community spirit encouraging communities and local businesses alike to thrive.

University College of Estate Management recently had the privilege of launching The Value of Community report at Blenheim Palace in partnership with the Prince’s Foundation. Savills produced a financial study for the report that revealed the long-term economic benefits of taking a sustainable approach to house building. This report provides yet more concrete evidence that this approach results in social and financial gains long-term.

In attendance at this event were 80 influential landowners who were there to discuss development projects across the UK. These landowners are actively choosing development partners with a focus on sustainability.

I have seen some brilliant examples of sustainable developments such as BedZED, an eco-village in South London that boasts major energy savings and lower bills, abundant green space and continued above-market sale prices.

If we put residents’ health and wellbeing at the heart of our developments then we can not only make a sustainable long-term profit, we can build communities to be proud of.