Creating meaningful social value for young people

The cost-of-living crisis means creating real social value has never been more important. The built environment sector must work harder to deliver meaningful interventions for young people and their local communities, concluded our recent roundtable.

Social value should benefit everyone – but young people are currently missing out. A quarter of the UK population is under 19 years old, but research commissioned by Grosvenor in 2020 found 89% of young adults aged 16-18 have never been asked about their neighbourhood.

Despite this lack of consultation, most young people do care. They want to see their neighbourhoods developed in a fair and equitable way, and they want to see meaningful social value embedded into their communities. The discrepancy between ask and appetite is key: we need to change this, and we need to deliver real social value to young people.

On Thursday 8th December 2022, Future of London and Countryside Partnerships convened a roundtable discussion with developers, youth organisations, housing associations and local authorities to explore how the built environment sector can deliver real social value for the young people that need it most.

Our roundtable participants offered advice on involving young people, which is captured in the full report with case studies and links to further reading on social value.

Download our social value report (PDF)

Social value is the positive value businesses create for the economy, communities, and society. It plays a foundational role in building a fair society and has a huge impact on the happiness of people. In the built environment sector, social value is used to define and measure the positive social impact of regeneration schemes.

“Young people want to see diversity and inclusion embedded in everything. They want to ensure places and spaces are safe for women and girls.”

Layla Conway, London Legacy Development Corporation

“Young people are future leaders, future place-makers, future users, consumers, and are socially conscious,” says Layla Conway, Head of Education, Careers and Youth Engagement, London Legacy Development Corporation.

“They want to see diversity and inclusion embedded in everything. They want to ensure places and spaces are safe for women and girls. They care about the climate emergency more than any generation that’s gone. They can challenge us and take us on a new journey and enable us to see things from a new perspective.”

But, who are the young people who could benefit most? What does meaningful social value really look like, and how can the public, private and third sectors work with communities to deliver social value with impact?

“Taking part in planning is difficult. It’s full of jargon and young people are not going to get what they want from it.”

Dr Julia King, LSE Cities

When it comes to young people, social value is often limited to a presentation from the developer to local school children. At our roundtable, Dr Julia King, Research Fellow at the London School of Economics, challenged the sector to think differently about how we deliver meaningful social value.

“Taking part in planning is difficult,” she says. “It’s full of jargon. It’s time-consuming. It’s outdated. Young people are not going to get what they want from it. We have to think differently.”

Top takeaways from our social value roundtable

Who: Young people want a say in where they live. But, all too often, this age group is overlooked. The sector needs to work harder and develop more creative and imaginative ways to reach young people.

What: meaningful social value interventions are not just tick-box exercises. Creative, imaginative, and meaningful approaches are being delivered across the sector.

How: public, private and third sector organisations can deliver impactful social value by working with organisations and communities that young people already trust; and by building social value into contracts.

Download our social value report (PDF)

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In partnership with housing associations, public bodies, landowners and institutional private rental operators, Countryside Partnerships delivers multiple tenures, including affordable homes, build to rent homes and homes for private sale. The company maintains a strong focus on place-making, designing places people love to create long-term sustainable communities across the UK, including some of the country’s most complex regeneration and master planned sites. Countryside Partnerships is part of Vistry Group.