Social sustainability can be defined in many different ways depending upon the local context, timeframe being considered, type of proposals and how it is constructed, operated and the way that society will interact with it.
Defining ‘social sustainability’ on a case by case basis through the use of key themes helps to focus efforts and track progress. It is necessary to identify how one can measure performance and set aspirations for achievement. Because there are no universally accepted metrics or methods, it is of key importance for developers and asset owners (for accountability and credibility) and policy makers (to understand the wider impact on communities) to demonstrate ‘additionality’ of their actions. I.e. what is the benefit brought about once you consider what would have happened in the ‘do nothing’ scenario.
Greengage uses a number of approaches to define, target and measure social sustainability outcomes throughout the built environment lifecycle. Our key advice is that the best outcomes are achieved through a combination of these services and that the most effective solution is for our experts to define a bespoke approach that delivers true social sustainability for your situation.
Greengage works with clients to specify, develop and implement bespoke social sustainability strategies for their organisations. This follows a process of understanding the key material issues relevant to the situation, whether that be the ongoing operation of a business, or the planning, design and construction of a building or pipeline of buildings. We will then look at defining a process the organisation can follow that is flexible enough to be adapted, but allows for a consistent and robust approach to delivering social change as a result of their activities.
Key to this process is the engagement of key stakeholders within the organisation as well as outside groups. Measurable indicators of progress will be defined which can then be adopted and verified against as different social sustainability initiatives are implemented.
We have been able to set strategies at the corporate level for large scale developers, who have then taken the approach and applied it on a project by project basis under our guidance.
We conduct Socio-Economic Impact Assessments to evaluate how a proposed scheme is likely to effect the local area, and the lives of existing and future communities. In the first instance, the assessment involves a thorough review of baseline data to form an understanding of the current local social, economic and environmental conditions. From this, an analysis is conducted on a number of potential impacts considering both their level of significance and their anticipated geographical range. From the conclusions drawn, appropriate mitigation and/or enhancement measures are suggested. These recommendations will inform the design and decision making process so as to satisfy planning requirements, and address the matters of most concern to Local Authorities and the local community.
The exact scope of the analysis is dependent on the proposed scheme, however common impacts considered include those likely to effect the local population, economy and the local job market, the provision of and increased demand on social infrastructure such as schools, public open space and community facilities, the provision of and increased demand on local services such as primary healthcare facilities and the potential impacts on the local sense of community cohesion and safety.
Working closely with the design team, we undertake Additionality Assessments to calculate the direct and indirect economic benefits associated with a proposed development. Using the latest guidance from the Homes & Communities Agency, as recommended by HM Treasury, the calculations consider various factors including displacement, leakage and multiplier effects. This gives a realistic appraisal of the scheme’s net benefits. Additionality Assessments can be used on a number of economic benefits including; construction employment, long-term operational job creation, spend analysis, provision of housing, and provision of commercial floor space, as is appropriate for the specific proposed scheme.
Health Impact Assessments (HIA) are an objective tool used to predict and measure the potential health impacts of a proposed scheme upon both the existing and future population of an area. Using the NHS Healthy Urban Development Unit (HUDU) assessment, we scope our HIA’s to represent the relevant potential health impacts as appropriate to the scheme. These impacts undergo an in-depth analysis of various contributing factors to ensure health is a key consideration during the design development. Impacts that can be considered in a HIA cover a range of health and well-being elements and can include consideration of the design, provision of services and social infrastructure, access to open space, pollution levels, site accessibility, community safety and cohesion, supporting of healthy lifestyles, supporting access to work and training, and consideration of environmental issues, as appropriate.
We carry out Local Economic Spend Analysis to identify the wider economic benefits brought to an area as a result of a proposed development. For residential schemes this assesses the benefit of a new population’s local expenditure. In the case of mixed-use and commercial developments we consider the supply chain linkages that can improve the local multiplier effect of any expenditure, (i.e. how many times a pound can go round the local economy). Accurate assessment of these benefits can form the basis for wider regenerative arguments in favour of a scheme.
Developments that are proposed in areas of existing local communities are often required to be supported by a regeneration statement regarding the benefits anticipated as a result of revitalisation. Our Regeneration Statements are specifically scoped to reference any Regeneration Strategies that might lie behind or be supported by the proposals; thus demonstrating how the policy aims of local authorities are being met. Regeneration Statements will cover details on various economic and development benefits, such as improved spend in the area, creation of employment and training opportunities, community benefits such as the provision of schools, libraries, sports, etc. improved health and well-being in the area and a reduction in crime.