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Phoebe Dennis

Embedding Social Value in planning with Southampton City Council

Phoebe Dennis, Senior Consultant at Social Value Portal, explains how she worked with Southampton City Council to embed Social Value into the Southampton City Vision.

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Southampton City Council receives more than 25 major planning applications per year and has recognised that the UK planning system presents a key opportunity to unlock Social Value through new developments. As a result, the council has been pioneering an approach to planning policy which provides an accommodating environment for Social Value to be included as a key requirement from the outset.

The new planning policy and process will be instrumental in supporting the city to embed Social Value in all its developments more efficiently and at the appropriate stage. It will enable  us to identify the most common risks and opportunities for Social Value in the planning process.

Councillor Darren Paffey, Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Children and Education

Supporting developers to maximise Social Value

Until 2022, Social Value requirements had not been included in Southampton’s planning policy documents, but feedback from developers highlighted that early engagement with Social Value would be beneficial for all parties.

Historically, employment and skills plans had been triggered later in the development process. This can leave the developer less time to address the needs of the area in a manner that will generate the most positive effect. An earlier understanding of the specific needs and priorities in the area to be developed enables bidders to incorporate a more effective Social Value plan.

The council therefore sought to incorporate Social Value into its Local Plan, beginning in 2020 and most recently undertaking public consultation in 2022. Its aim was to address current issues faced in the region and set a clear and aspirational vision for the future of the city.

Embedding Social Value into Southampton’s planning policy

Social Value Portal supported the council to embed Social Value into its planning process, which included creating a new requirement in the planning policy for a Social Value statement, and providing early signposting of Southampton's Social Value priorities.

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A Social Value Statement submitted with a planning application can boost Social Value and help to meet local needs and priorities in a structured and efficient way throughout the lifetime of the development.

Social Value Portal's work with the council had the following outputs:

  • A Social Value Scoping Study, which reviewed seven existing policies for the local authority area to identify the relevant policies and objectives linked to Social Value, and inform future decisions. This also provided insight into what the first steps would most likely be.
  • A Local Needs Analysis, which assessed the needs and priorities of the different areas in Southampton, using more than 35 datasets. This identified the main areas of deprivation: outdoor living environment, crime, and health, which helped to inform the third stage...
  • The development of the Local Plan Policy Guidance, which has been prepared and justified by the Scoping Study and Local Needs Analysis to provide considered recommendations for the council’s Local Plan Social Value Policy across four Themes: Jobs, Growth, Social and Environment.

Southampton City Council’s Local Plan Social Value Policy

The Local Plan Social Value Policy featured in the Draft Southampton City Vision 2022. The purpose of this policy is to make sure that all future planning submissions will be able to show how they can contribute to making Southampton a more socially and economically inclusive and prosperous city.

The new planning policy and process will be instrumental in supporting the city to embed Social Value in all its developments more efficiently and at the appropriate stage. It will enable us to identify the most common risks and opportunities for Social Value in the planning process.

Councillor Darren Paffey, Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Children and Education

Implementing the Social Value policy

The latest stage of the Draft Southampton City Vision has been submitted to the Council Cabinet for review, and will be subject to a further period of public consultation, amendments and review by the Planning Inspectorate prior to adoption, which is expected in early 2025.

Once adopted, Southampton City Council will support developers to respond to Social Value requirements through supplementary planning guidance and face to face engagement, ensuring the policy will be implemented and the community will experience the benefits more expediently.

This article was originally published on www.localgov.co.uk on 16 March 2023

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About Social Value Portal

Since 2017 Social Value Portal has been at the forefront of the Social Value movement. As creators of the endorsed Social Value TOM SystemTM, hosts of the annual Social Value Conference and founding members of the independent National Social Value Taskforce – they set industry standards and lead the business agenda.

Their unique mix of consultancy, cloud platform and programmes offer organisations the complete solution to accurately measure, manage and report Social Value – and create lasting impact.

In 2022, SVP achieved B Corp status, scoring above average in all assessed. The company’s aim is to promote better business and community wellbeing through the integration of Social Value into day-to-day business activity across all sectors.

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