News & Insights

Beyond the build: leaving a legacy

INSIGHTS

By Sean Bowles, Morgan Sindall Managing Director Construction Central

Individual schemes and flagship structures win awards and take the headlines. But across the property, construction and infrastructure sectors, the progressive companies – be they contractors, developers or architects – are thinking beyond buildings.

Delivering meaningful regeneration that transcends landmark structures and city centre prime sites, requires a considered and collaborative approach between both private and public sector partners.

The blueprint for successful public-private collaboration, which can deliver lasting economic growth, and revitalise communities across the Midlands, was the subject of discussion at a recent Midlands Insider panel discussion.

I was joined by representatives from Scape Group, Bruntwood, Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority to discuss industry commitment to the Social Value Act through the retention of graduates, development of skills, creation of jobs, and the levels of community investment delivered by regeneration projects across the region.

More than 70% of the construction projects we deliver are for public sector customers. It’s therefore no surprise that we’re seeing an increasing onus on evidencing and committing to social value investment at the earliest stage of the procurement process.

It’s an important step change for the industry and one that mirrors the culture shift in the majority of purpose-driven companies.

The term corporate social responsibility (CSR) is waning in its popularity in the business lexicon – and rightfully so.

While there may be contractual obligations to evidence a commitment to community and environmentally-minded activity, the responsibility to actually deliver it felt by forward thinking organisations, extends far beyond box ticking.

To be effective and meaningful, it has to underpin, and be woven through, all of a business’ activity – and it has to be measureable.

All of our project teams are encouraged to utilise our “Social Value Bank”. This allows them to attribute a monetary value to progress made against a range of social, economic and environmental commitments agreed with procuring authorities at the outset and captured in the project-specific social value charter.

We also use the Local Multiplier 3 (LM3) system: a methodology that allows us to calculate the level of re-investment and economic impact we make within 25 miles of a site.

Over the last five years, our work on the Constructing West Midlands Framework has delivered more than 6,000 weeks of training, driven £172 million into the local supply chain and produced more than £280 million of benefit in the local community.

By providing an accurate measurement of the wealth created locally through our construction projects, we can ensure that our commitment to delivering social value is quantifiable and evidenced.

Providing great employment opportunities and inspiring the next generation of construction workers are two of our key aims. As part of our recently completed £9.9 million student accommodation project at Newman University, in Birmingham, the project team created nine new work placements for students interested in securing invaluable experience, alongside their studies.

On the same project, we secured a long-term work experience position for Steff Atkinson, a BTEC Level 3 construction student, who has shadowed the project’s building services engineer throughout the entire build process.

The team at Newman also facilitated vital STEM engagement activities: engaging with local primary schools and bringing them on site for regular visits. Research shows that children are beginning to form career choices before they have started secondary education. These sessions helped paint a positive picture of a career in construction.

As part of each project, we also look at how we can make a difference with volunteer work in the community – donating expertise and materials to help deliver important projects for local people. Our most recent day saw staff donate over 80 hours to rejuvenate the outdoor space at a local elderly care home in Slough, making a huge difference to the health and wellbeing of residents.

It was gratifying to see universal agreement during the panel discussion, with contractor, developer, procurement specialist and public sector leaders unanimous on the role social value has to play in driving holistic regeneration and making our city-regions greater.

If this commonality can extend across the wider property, construction and infrastructure industry it can only benefit the communities in which we work.

  • For more information about the above please contact Jonathan Daly at Influential on 0151 239 5000 or email daly@thisisinfluential.com