City centre office scheme breaks 40% social value barrier

City centre office scheme breaks 40% social value barrier

(Press release Home Group:) Newcastle, 30 September 2022 - A newly constructed head office in Newcastle City Centre has raised the bar for its delivery of social value.

One Strawberry Lane, the new home for Home Group, one of the UK’s largest housing organisations, has returned a 44% social value score – up to three times the national average for a similar sized project.

Research last year by Social Value Portal and SCAPE show that the average social value scores for construction projects range between 13% - 25%, with the lower score correlating to larger developments.

Home Group worked alongside developers Ask Real Estate and contractor BAM Construction to draw up an agreed plan to ensure the project delivered to the highest standard. 

In particular, the One Strawberry Lane project has delivered significantly against the local spend criteria. More than £16m has been reinvested within 30 miles of the project, with majority of the local spend supporting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Alongside the social value relating to the building itself, the delivery partners also set up a separate community benefits programme, with a pot of £150,000, comprising financial contributions, labour and volunteering hours, and donated materials. 

The headline figures from the development include:

  • 43% social value return 
  • 7 community projects supported with a value of £150k through the Community Fund and donated volunteer hours and materials
  • 77% local spend
  • 182 people engaged in industry workshops
  • 31 local unemployed people into work
  • 19 apprentices gained training on the project
  • Grassroots sports supported
  • Mental health and wellbeing initiatives for the workforce throughout.

Kitson Keen, Director of Development at Home Group, said: ‘Delivering social value within procurement and project management across many sectors has improved significantly over recent years. A major part of the One Strawberry Lane development was to ensure we provided the best possible social value return. Our focus on this has led to us to achieve this remarkable result and it is credit to my colleagues, and our partners Ask and BAM Construction. We have now created a yardstick for ourselves, and it is challenging one, but one we are fully committed to working towards.’

John Hughes, managing director of Ask Real Estate added: ‘As Home Group’s chosen development partner we were keen to support their aspiration to deliver change for the local community from the very outset of the project. It has been fantastic to see such a wide number of local community groups benefit from, not only cash contributions, but from the expert help of our professional team and BAM’s skilled tradespeople. It really has set the benchmark for future projects of this kind.’

BAM’s Construction Director, Tony Fitzgerald, said: ‘Our hardworking team has not only created a very challenging and complex building but in doing so, we’ve worked tirelessly with local suppliers and businesses, local charities and the community around us. Our extensive engagement here is a reflection of BAM’s ethic that it is not just what we build but how we build it that matters. What we leave behind us is not just a building but lives that have been enhanced through work experience, skills, training, and wellbeing. It’s wonderful to have been involved with an excellent scheme, and we thank everybody who has helped and interacted with us along the way.’

Notes to editors

Projects included supporting a local women and girls centre, providing improvements to their building such as the installation of a library space. Elsewhere, a new communal kitchen was provided – with partners going back periodically throughout the project to support with food hygiene certifications and even working with a supplier to provide specialist damp proofing when an initial problem presented itself.

A new community garden was established for a local community, while support was also provided for key regional organisations such as the West End Foodbank.

About Home Group

Home Group is one of the UK’s largest providers of housing, health and care, employing nearly 3,000 colleagues. We provide homes for over 120,000 customers across 55,000 properties in England and Scotland, and in the last year delivered support to around 11,000 people with mental and physical health issues.

The North-East based social enterprise, set up in 1935, has a strategic goal to build ‘the right homes in the right places’, and is being supported by Persona, its own outright sale arm which it launched in 2018. All profits from Persona are reinvested to build more social and affordable homes. 

Home Group facts and figures

  • We have a turnover of around £430m
  • We have a G1/V1 rating
  • We returned a surplus of £32m in 2020/21 (adjusted for Covid impact)
  • We invested £160m to build new homes in 2020/21
  • We are a Homes England Wave One strategic partner 
  • We are an early adopter of the Sustainability Reporting Standard for Social Housing (ESG)
  • In 2022 we were ranked 5th in the UK for large organisations in the Great Place to Work survey 
  • We are ranked 18th in the Stonewall Top 100 Employer Index

About BAM Construction

Being the construction business of BAM UK and Ireland division, BAM Construction is at the forefront of social and technological change in the UK’s built environment. It has created some of Britain’s best-known and best-performing buildings. The company operates from major regional centres in every major city of the UK.

BAM is a leader in digital construction and contributed to the development of platform design solutions to assist the whole sector through the Construction Industry Hub. It is known for its highly collaborative ethos.

BAM is one of very few construction companies placed on CDP's prestigious ‘A List’ for climate change. It is a signatory of the World Green Building Council Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment.

Its work in and around the North East of England also includes restoring Redcar’s Regent Cinema, creating the Baltic Centre, major buildings for all the region’s Universities, and works for Freeman Hospital, My Place Redcar, and Newcastle International Airport, among many others. It was recently appointed to begin work on The Sage Arena.