Unlocking Social Value conference write-up

Looking ahead to the future of social value

Communities will expect more from social value in the future. Yet the public sector continues to struggle with resources, and private investment is increasingly influenced by the ESG agenda.

So what’s next for social value and how can we make sure it has impact over the next ten years? In our final session, panellists shared their reflections on the day and hopes for social value going forward.


  • Marcus Bate, Partnerships and Communities Director, Mount Anvil (Chair)
  • Alice Lester MBE, Director, Regeneration, Growth and Employment, LB Brent
  • Mekor Newman, Director, Newman Francis
  • Hilary Satchwell, Mayor’s Design Advocate, GLA & Director, Tibbalds


Mekor Newman, Newman Francis

Social value is ultimately a commitment to creating a positive impact in communities and contributing to improving quality of life.  To echo some contributions from the day, here’s what good looks like:

  • Local communities are supported to monitor the impact of neighbourhood plans and can hold local authorities and businesses to account.
  • All key stakeholders are in conversation from the start of a development. This should be made a requirement for planning applications.
  • Local communities should be in the front seat when it comes to how to spend the money that is intended to benefit them.

“Local people and communities are the technical advisors of how we can make built environment projects work.”

Alice Lester MBE, LB Brent

The learnings from today inspired Alice to think about how LB Brent could deliver greater social impact. She shared her key takeaways from the day:

  • Social value can include good placemaking, high quality new homes and community wealth-building.
  • LB Brent could do more to measure genuine impact and not just the social value that’s easy to quantify.
  • The council does a lot of great work but could develop a more coordinated social value approach and not just a siloed focus on procurement.

“Measuring value is much more than we can count.”

Hilary Satchwell, GLA & Tibbalds

Hilary opened by asking if this was a room of people “preaching to the converted”? There were lots of examples of good practice, but she reminded delegates that many developments in London have no social value uplift.

“We’ve got to think about a baseline level of social value delivery that in many places doesn’t exist.”


Marcus Bate, Mount Anvil

The last word went to Marcus, as chair, who summed up some highlights from the day and panellists’ thoughts about social value.

  • Social value is a highly emotive topic and panellists and attendees have expressed a lot of care about what they do. Emotions have ranged from anger and shame about poverty and the housing crisis, to pride and optimism in the positive social impact the sector can have.
  • The built environment has a special intimacy with space and place and it’s important for the sector to honour this and make sure it’s accountable to local communities.
  • Every part of the sector should be reflecting on how to be a “good ancestor” and thinking about what incremental steps they can take today ensure a social value legacy in 30 years’ time.

Further Reading

Find out more about our Unlocking Social Value research programme here.

Thanks to our programme sponsors Bouygues UK Countryside Partnerships Linkcity Mount Anvil Pollard Thomas Edwards Trowers & Hamlins and Yoo Capital.

Thanks to our conference sponsors Commonplace Lovell and Montagu Evans