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Best Practice in Creating Social Value Beyond London

When it comes to creating social value, the lessons to be learned extend far beyond the bustling communities of London. A recent international session, led by Future of London at their annual conference, brought together experts from various corners of the globe to discuss best practices in social value initiatives that have the potential to reshape communities and improve lives beyond the boundaries of our capital.

Linkcity is proud to be working closely with Future of London as one of their new partners and co-sponsors of their major social value programme for 2023, Unlocking Social Value, alongside sister company Bouygues UK. This year-long programme of events and practice-based research considers exactly how the construction and development industry can better understand the needs of communities and look at the social value contribution of community-led initiatives both within London and beyond.

The panel of speakers at this enlightening session around best practice in creating social value beyond London during this year’s conference which focusing particularly on social value included Oliver Campbell, Development Director at Linkcity who chaired the discussion. Joining him were Nigel Carter, Co-founder of Oxford Community Action, Simon Grove-White, Principal Economic Development Officer focused on Community Wealth Building at Oxford City Council, and Mayor Tim Kelly, the Mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Oliver, Nigel and Simon all shared business examples of where their respective companies have successfully contributed to the social value of the communities within which they work.

Paris Puts Social Value First

In the heart of Europe, Paris has embarked on an innovative social value project through the Îlot Fertile regeneration project. This venture aims to deliver the first net-zero district in Paris and what sets this project apart is the city’s commitment to putting social value at the forefront of its objectives. Paris procured the project with an open brief, calling for innovative approaches to creating social cohesion with Linkcity responding with a variety of residential tenures and accessible sports facilities, beyond just housing development, and a long-term commitment to stewardship from the development partners. The project even includes the ‘Rosa Living Lab,’ a space for the community, entrepreneurs, and youth to collaborate and share their visions for the city.

As part of local labour commitments during construction, France already has recruitment quotas for hiring people with a disability and ex-offenders and employment opportunities have also been identified as form of potential social benefit from the Îlot Fertile development.

Oxford’s Approach: Community Wealth Building

Through ‘Owned by Oxford’, the city has joined the global movement of local authorities supporting community wealth building. This approach emphasizes local economic growth, power-sharing, and trust as the foundations of social value creation. One key insight from Oxford is that flexible funding can empower grassroots organizations to be more autonomous and willing to take calculated risks. Often, the social value generated by these grassroots groups goes unnoticed in mainstream frameworks. To bridge this gap, the Oxford City Council initiated the ‘Match My Project’ online platform, aimed at boosting the visibility of these organizations and their resource requirements.

Furthermore, grassroots organizations with diverse social networks bring invaluable local knowledge and insights to the table. Commissioners and council suppliers are encouraged to actively support these community organizations in developing collaborative and participatory action research initiatives. These initiatives, in turn, unlock untapped social value.

Chattanooga’s Community Benefit Scheme

Across the Atlantic, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, social value takes the form of community benefits. Mayor Tim Kelly’s ‘One Chattanooga Plan’ was developed to address pockets of poverty in the city. This plan measures community benefit by its capacity to support local workers, enhance social determinants of health, and prevent the displacement of existing residents due to rising costs of living.

Key to Chattanooga’s approach is Community Benefit Agreements (CBA), contractual arrangements between developers and community organizations which outline the developer’s obligations towards the community. The city actively collects feedback from the community through its engagement team and the ‘COLAB’ non-profit business start-up accelerator.

A Global Perspective: Lessons in Social Value

These diverse case studies from Oxford, Chattanooga, and Paris reveal that despite geographical disparities, there are striking similarities in how these regenerative projects aim to benefit local communities. These case studies highlight the intricate roles played by local authorities, regulations, and investors in delivering high-impact social value.

Perhaps the most important lesson learnt from this session is the need for commitment from all stakeholders to design projects with social value as the driving force behind them, rather than a mere afterthought. As these cities demonstrate, putting social value first leads to innovative ideas and transformative outcomes that enhance the well-being of communities around the world.

Linkcity is proud to be supporting legal firm, Osborne Clarke as they welcome their second cohort of interns through the 10,000 Black Foundation.

This programme is designed to connect talented people to life-changing opportunities and dramatically increase representation by providing paid internships for Black students and graduates across the UK within a range of sectors.

Osborne Clarke, a firm Linkcity works closely with, welcomed 12 interns across its offices in Bristol, Reading and London this summer for the six-week programme. This second cohort of interns has also been given the opportunity to undertake two placements directly with one of Osborne Clarke’s clients, of which Linkcity are one.

We were delighted to welcome Daniel Owusu, Kayana Smith and Naomi Yikuno-Amlak to our offices where they spent two days getting to know the business and meeting our colleagues as well as visiting one of our live developments, Tustin Estate.

Amanda Child, Head of Legal at Linkcity said, “Osborne Clarke is one of my favourite law firms to work with on projects and when the 10kBI initiative was mentioned, I was delighted that Linkcity could offer interns a placement this summer. Naomi, Kayana and Daniel were perfect guests in our office and it was a pleasure to give them an insight to the role of an in-house lawyer where they had the chance to meet some of the team on Osborne Clarke’s client side. We all also had the opportunity to visit our sister company, Bouygues UK, the main contractor on site at Phase 1 of Linkcity’s Tustin Estate development. I do hope the interns enjoyed themselves with Linkcity and the in-house legal team.”

Naomi said, “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Linkcity. We had a holistic exposure into Linkcity as a business rather than just the legal side which I really appreciated! The site visit to Tustin Estate was great to put the things we learned about the regeneration development into a tangible perspective. Thank you to Amanda and the whole team for this experience!”

Kayana said, “My Linkcity placement was very insightful. I loved getting to know the different teams and the different legal and non-legal elements that go into developing a site. Additionally, the site visit was a once in a lifetime opportunity! Thank you to Linkcity, and Bouygues UK, for hosting us, I thoroughly enjoyed my time!”

Linkcity looks forward to continuing to support Osborne Clarke and the 1000 Black Interns Programme going forward.

Linkcity is proud to be announced as a new partner and co-sponsor of The Future of London’s major social value programme for 2023.

We are currently involved in delivering several major projects for Future of London members in London, including:

  • Hallsville Quarter in Canning Town to deliver a new £600m town centre with the London Borough of Newham
  • Tustin Estate redevelopment, including 220 new council homes with Southwark Council

Linkcity also recently announced that we are going to be working with the London Borough of Barnet on a build-to-rent scheme on the station car park site in Burnt Oak to create 350 private and affordable homes.

We are joining Future of London at the start of Unlocking Social Value, a year-long programme of events and practice-based research. The programme will consider how the sector can better understand the needs of communities and look at the social value contribution of community-led initiatives.

Phillippa Prongué, Managing Director of Linkcity, said:

“We are excited to join Future of London because creating economically and socially sustainable communities is a mission we share.

“We are looking forward to connecting with members to develop solutions for inclusive, community-led regeneration and gain insights to help us reach our net zero targets.”

Nicola Mathers, Chief Executive of Future of London, said:

“The built environment sector is increasingly focused on ensuring that development creates real and lasting value to local communities.

“With their extensive experience of regeneration and housing development, we are certain that Linkcity will provide valuable insights to our programme.”

The social value programme is officially launched on 4 May 2023 – find out more here.

Our partner, Solutions for the Planet (S4TP), is well into this year’s Big Ideas Competition with the Regional Finalists now through to the next phase of the competition.

Our Development Manager, Małgosia Topolewska, helped judge the regional shortlisting last week. She said, “It was a real pleasure and honour to join the judging panel for the #BigIdeasProgramme2023 for South England. All the ideas are truly inspiring and I left with more confidence in a sustainable future! Good luck to all the finalists.”

S4TP’s well-renowned Big Ideas Programme, which we thrilled to be involved with for the third year running, is a STEM and enterprise programme that gives young people a voice in the dialogue around sustainability, linking their ideas to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Find out more about the programme here.

It’s International Women’s Day and whilst we remain focused on celebrating women’s achievements, raising awareness about discrimination and taking action to drive gender parity all year round, International Women’s Day is an apt opportunity to highlight the importance of going beyond all of this and breaking down those systemic barriers that see women still being treated inequitably.

In relation to the property development sector, this means doing more to ensure that our women can access and work in an environment where there is no place for those feelings some still have that this is an industry more fitting for our male counterparts.

With women increasingly choosing a career in property and construction, our Communications Officer, Amy Burnett spoke to Graduate Development Officer, Georgia De Allie, Senior Management Accountant, Hélène Emond and Operations Manager, Kat Morris to discuss careers, equality, inspiration and more.

Amy: As we all know, there are a multitude of career opportunities within the property industry that go beyond gender and suit a range of skill sets. Could you tell me a little bit about what each of your roles involves?
It is so true that there are many different roles within this industry, and I wasn’t aware of the extent of this until I joined Linkcity. I am a Graduate Development Surveyor on the graduate scheme at Linkcity, which, in itself, is a wide-ranging role! Over the course of the last year and a half, I have been building on the skills required to successfully manage property development projects, including legal matters, finance and aspects of design, and planning.

Hélène: I focus more specifically on one of the elements Georgia mentioned; finance. My main role is to assist the Operations Managers so that they make the best possible decisions. By providing my colleagues with key information at the right time we ensure we are adaptable, avoiding any storms and making the most of a tail wind! In more prosaic terms, my role involves overseeing our cash position, budget, risks and more to guarantee everything runs smoothly.

Kat: As one of the Operations Managers that Hélène assists, I am primarily involved in the construction side of our schemes. I work with our construction sister company, Bouygues UK, our consultants, and investors to manage the works on site. I am working on my third scheme now which is a student accommodation scheme in Colchester for the University of Essex.

The Pastures at Essex under construction

Amy: And given the variety of your roles, how did you come to decide on a career in the built environment?

Kat: For me, it was slightly by accident! My first job out of university was as a sustainability consultant, which although turned out not to be my final path, introduced me to the construction and property industry. From here, I found a career I genuinely enjoy with a variety of work and a great team of people with real passion for what they do.

Amy: Would you say property development is a career choice that appeals to women?
Well, I cannot talk in the name of all women. However, I would say that I work among talented, smart, and dedicated female individuals at Linkcity.

Georgia: I completely agree with Hélène. I am luckily enough to have a female Manager, Managing Director and Chair, so it is inspiring to have role models not just within the industry but within the company itself. Examples like this are what is contributing to a career in property development becoming an increasingly popular option for women.

Kat: Yes, it is a great industry to work in. To build on what Georgia mentions, there are some misconceptions about what the industry is like as a place to work, but I would like to think most of these are dispelled by the time women are actually working in the field. We just need to encourage more women through the door in the first place!

Amy: So how do we do this? What are the barriers that are currently preventing women entering careers in property?

Hélène: I am sure we could write an essay to answer this question! I think part of it is a fact lots of us forget; many engineering schools only opened to women fifty years ago. And whilst society has changed its attitude to women in STEM dramatically since then, there is still a long way to go to dispel the endemic, absurd stereotypes that often translate as a lack of female role models and gender bias.

Kat: I think there is definitely still a lack of information in relation to the number and variety of roles within the STEM sectors. This can fuel unconscious bias based on an outdated view of what working in the industry is actually like.

Georgia: Exactly. It may still be a male dominated industry, but that does not mean women cannot thrive and enjoy working in it. And with the scales slowly tipping towards a more evenly balance work environment, I’m sure these barriers will continue to be lowered.

Amy: Coming back to my question of how we break down these barriers completely, how can we better promote careers in property to the younger generation? And going further, what should businesses and the government do to encourage more women to enter the sector?
Hélène: What a complex question! To answer the latter point, businesses need to ensure that a woman never has to choose between becoming a mother and having a successful career by embedding inclusivity and flexibility into the foundations of the way their companies work. As for the government, I think education and employment opportunities are at the heart of it.

Georgia: Hélène’s last point is crucial to how we can better promote careers in property to the younger generation. It is not just the government that has a part to play in this; businesses also need to be proactive in engaging with and encouraging the younger generation, for instance by visiting schools and colleges to showcase the opportunities available.

Kat: I agree. Education is key to opening up the industry and urging girls to consider careers which may previously not have occurred to them. Only through being able to make truly informed choices can change realistically happen.

Amy: What part do you see yourself playing in the promoting of women in property within Linkcity and your wider network?
Being visible and available to those starting out or considering joining the industry is a priority for me. I think representation is very important; if women can see other women like you working in a particular role that they might not have originally considered for themselves, it can make all the difference in how they envisage their own career or a future opportunity.

Georgia: For me, it’s about making the most of the volunteering days we are entitled to at Linkcity to get involved with the work we do in raising awareness with schools, colleges and other organisations like Women in Property or Women into Construction.

Georgia getting involved with one of our charity initiatives through volunteering

Hélène: I have been a Linkcity representative in the Bouygues Group’s women’s network, Welink, for a couple of years now. I have met many incredible, talented women through the network, and have played my part by organising events, delivering training sessions and being a listening ear when needed.

Amy: Having delved deeper into all of the above, would you recommend the property development industry to other women and girls?
*a unanimous 100%*

Georgia: It is an exciting industry to be a part of and whilst there are still improvements to be made, it has come a long way. I would not let being a woman put anyone off joining the property development sector, if anything I would advise women to make it more of a reason to join us and bridge the gender diversity gap whilst hopefully also pursuing a fulfilling career.

Hélène: Everyone has something to bring to the table and in any space where an underrepresented group is given a voice, fresh perspectives and ideas always come through. In a business capacity, this often also leads to business improvement. So, to other women and girls, be part of that improvement and join our sector!

Kat: Georgia and Hélène have said it very well; I simply cannot imagine working in a different industry and having the same level of job satisfaction.

Amy: Finally, where do you see the sector heading in terms of gender equality?
The sector is definitely heading in the right direction; I am confident that progress will continue to be made. I hope it picks up momentum and happens quicker than we have seen it in the past.

Hélène: We will get there eventually! It will take more than a couple of decades to break down and completely eradicate attitudes that have been around for centuries, no matter how absurd and destructive these now so obviously are.

Kat: Yes, there is a long way to go but change is happening. If we keep celebrating women, raising awareness and increasing opportunities, this should have a snowball effect on making the industry more obvious and appealing to women.

Linkcity are delighted to have partnered with Solutions for the Planet (S4TP) for a third year running!

S4TP is a social enterprise passionate about sustainability and improving young people’s life chances. Like Linkcity, S4TP believes young people are key to helping us make the world a better place for everyone and so they reinvest profits back into the business to benefit more young people and local communities.

Their well-renowned Big Ideas Programme, which we are looking forward to getting involved with for another year, is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) and enterprise programme with a focus on sustainability issues that matter to our young people. Delivered in secondary schools across the UK and using employee volunteers from their Business Partner Network as mentors, the Big Ideas Programme harnesses creativity, encourages teamwork, develops STEM and wider employability skills, and gives young people a voice in the dialogue around sustainability, linking their ideas to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Since 2013, the Big Ideas Programme has involved over 23,000 young people from more than 80 schools, with 500+ mentors volunteering over 5,000 hours of their time to support the young people in developing their confidence, ideas, skills and knowledge around STEM, sustainability and entrepreneurship.

We are thrilled to have a new set of mentors from Linkcity joining the programme this year. Brian, Aleks and Helena will be mentoring pupils from South Bank University Academy to share their expertise and help the students come up with a fail-proof, winning idea.

This week’s Big Ideas 2022 launch event marks the start of an exciting year to come! Look out for updates about how the South Bank University Academy are doing within the competition over the coming months.

Introducing the Graduate Challenge 2022!
Every year graduates from across Bouygues Construction in the UK choose to take part in a challenge to raise money for a charity of their choice.
This year, 20 graduates are taking part in the Snowdonia Crossing Challenge, a three-day cycle, hike and kayak totalling 80 miles across Snowdonia including summiting Mount Snowdon.
Their chosen charity this year is The Wren Project, a charity providing one-to-one support for people struggling with complex and chronic autoimmune diseases when alternative psychosocial support is absent, insufficient, or hard to access.

Watch the video below to find out a bit more about their inspiring work.

With hopes to raise £7000 which will be match funded by the company, our graduates have a lot of fundraising to do! If you would like to help them reach their goal and donate to this important cause, click here.

The beginning of 2022 marked the start of our partnership with the Law Society, supporting their Diversity Access Scheme. An initiative driven by Leasha Lynch, a Solicitor for Linkcity, we now offer work experience for students on the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme.

Linkcity is delighted to be working more closely with the Law Society to offer valuable experience to students who might otherwise struggle to gain such opportunities. Having previously been awarded a scholarship for the Scheme, Leasha’s insight has been invaluable. The Diversity Access Scheme is a scholarship programme offered by the Law Society to help aspiring law students from less advantaged backgrounds to pursue a career in law, by providing funding for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Solicitors Qualifying Exam. In addition to the funding, awardees are provided with work experience opportunities and mentoring. The scheme receives hundreds of applications each year, but only 10 scholarships are awarded, so it is a highly competitive process.

Leasha said, “As a previous awardee of a scholarship from the scheme, I have seen the benefits first-hand. Whilst the funding is the key component of the scheme, the access to a mentor to help guide you through such a daunting period is equally as valuable.

“Often the students don’t know others in the profession that they can speak to and get advice from, so having the chance to speak to someone already working as a qualified solicitor is very important. I have volunteered as a mentor to help offer some insight and advice to my current mentee.”

Since the year began, we have welcomed two students to Linkcity to complete their internships with us. Both studying for their LPC, Romesa and Lily explained why their time with us was so valuable.

Romesa said, “My placement with Linkcity will play a significant role in my career development in the long-term. Over the two weeks, I was given real and challenging work to complete by both my supervisor and other lawyers in the team. Having this exposure, as an aspiring solicitor, means that I have a better understanding of what this role entails on a daily basis.

“This experience will inevitably make me a stronger candidate for future applications as I will be able to confidently demonstrate the importance of solicitors and delivering practical and commercially aware solutions to clients.

The placement with Linkcity has given me a real insight into what it is like working in-house which is a very rare opportunity. This will benefit me in the future when deciding whether to qualify with an in-house or a private practice law firm.”

Lily said, “The exposure I have gained through my time at Linkcity has helped me to learn about alternative opportunities available in the legal sector. This type of exposure is often difficult to obtain. Working for a global company has also allowed me to consider both local impacts and global challenges to this line of work.

“What’s more, as I come from a lower socio-economic background than most in the legal practice, I lack a network or contacts whom I can ask questions to. This has therefore been my first real opportunity to gain insights and advice on the legal profession, helping me to make the leap between academic learning to its practical application in a legal setting.”

We wish both Romesa and Lily the best of luck with the rest of their studies and look forward to welcoming more students to Linkcity in the future.

The Linkcity team is travelling virtually to Kyiv, raising money for the British Red Cross’ Ukraine Crisis Appeal.

From tomorrow, employees from across Linkcity will collectively be covering the 1,494 miles from our head office, Becket House in London to Kiyv in just over two weeks. Be it through walking, cycling or running we’ll get there!

To donate to this important cause, please visit our JustGiving page below. Look out for updates on how we’re getting on!

Driven by Leasha Newman, a Solicitor for Linkcity, we are now offering work experience for students on the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme. Linkcity is delighted to be working more closely with the Law Society to offer valuable experience to students who might otherwise struggle to gain such opportunities.

We spoke with Leasha’s first intern recruited through the scheme, Romesa Altaf. Here’s what she had to say about her time at Linkcity.

Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came about finding your internship with Linkcity?

I studied Law LLB at the University of Reading and graduated in June 2021. Through a rigorous application process, I was very fortunate to be awarded The Law Society’s DAS Scholarship which supports aspiring solicitors from disadvantaged backgrounds. This fully funded scholarship covers the costs of my LPC course which I am currently studying at BPP University. Linkcity were one of the firms that worked with The Law Society and organised the opportunity for one of the DAS awardees to undertake a paid work placement with the in-house legal team.   

What has your day to day role involved over the course of your internship?

Over the course of my internship, I have been involved in completing a range of tasks to assist the legal team. Some of the tasks involved undertaking research, drafting documents, writing emails and attending client meetings. Aside from these tasks, I was introduced to individuals from other departments to discuss their roles and how they work with the legal team. I also visited Linkcity’s project at Luton Street which was really insightful as I was able to see the final product coming together.

What has been the most challenging part of your time with Linkcity?

I think the most challenging part of my internship has been working whilst studying. Since I’m studying the LPC full-time, taking part in the placement meant finding the time to study independently after work. Although this was difficult to manage at first, I had support from the legal team who were always open to answering any questions I had relating to the LPC. Completing the placement in this format has also allowed me to understand the importance of effectively managing and organising my time

What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned since starting your internship?

The most valuable thing I have learnt from this placement is that although it is important to have the legal knowledge, it is crucial to have the ability to communicate and build relationships with people across a range of departments. As a lawyer, you are required to liaise with others to not only gather information but also see things from different perspectives to reach the best outcome for your client. Therefore, being able to attend client meetings and hear my supervisor attend calls and meetings was an invaluable part of my placement as it allowed me to better understand client queries and how these are resolved. 

What have you liked most about working at Linkcity?

Over the two weeks, I really enjoyed witnessing the collaborative culture at Linkcity and working alongside hardworking, enthusiastic and result-oriented individuals. Because of this, I was able to have genuine conversations with a number of people in the office and ask questions without hesitation. This was something I was quite anxious about prior to joining but the atmosphere from the first day in the office was reassuring as it clearly demonstrated that I was treated as a valuable member of the team.

I also liked the quality of work I was assigned. Compared to my previous work experiences, at Linkcity, I had real-life work given to me. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed drafting a supplemental lease which required me to use both my legal knowledge and my ability utilise new key information to complete the document. I enjoyed receiving thorough feedback on my work, following this feedback and then producing the final version for my supervisor and other team members.

How do you think your time with us will benefit your development in the long-term?

My placement with Linkcity will play a significant role in my career development in the long-term. Over the two weeks, I was given real and challenging work to complete by both my supervisor and other lawyers in the team. Having this exposure, as an aspiring solicitor, means that I have a better understanding of what this role entails on a daily basis. This experience will inevitably make me a stronger candidate for future applications as I will be able to confidently demonstrate the importance of solicitors and delivering practical and commercially aware solutions to clients.

The placement with Linkcity has given me a real insight what it is like working in-house which is a very rare opportunity. This will benefit me in the future when deciding whether to qualify with an in-house or a private practice law firm.

I have built some strong relationships over the course of my placement and these will benefit me as I progress in my career. Having met incredibly supportive people, I am confident that I have a network of individuals I can contact to have conversations relating to my career and or my studies.

Completion at The Pastures

Best Practice in Creating Social Value Beyond London

Supporting the 10,000 Interns Foundation

University of Chichester Names Uliving Preferred Bidder for New Scheme

Construction Begins for Almost 700 New Homes in Southwark

Linkcity Backs Social Value Programme

Małgosia Topolewska Helps Judge Regional Sustainability Shortlisting

In Conversation with Georgia, Hélène and Kat

Linkcity will Help Revitalise Burnt Oak Town Centre in Barnet

Official Opening of the Church Street Leisure Centre

Successful Sale of Residential Assets Shows Clear Demand for Student Accommodation  

Work Completes at Luton Street and Fisherton Street


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