The success of the communities we build is highly dependent on good relationships with local people. We make significant investment in these relationships before and during development and we are proud of the outcomes we achieve together.
Last year we reported on what we had been doing at Darlington, Waterbeach and elsewhere. As our strategic sites mature, in 2017 we are able to capture more significant results, with schools and other amenities opening and communities coming alive.
We encourage our team to play a part in their communities at home and at work, as we know it brings benefits all round.
This year, we have measured and report this investment in time and resource for the first time across our strategic sites. We found that 1,812 hours were spent on non-obligatory initiatives.
Low figures for Newark and Waterbeach as both projects are in early development. We expect figures to rise as each project progresses in development.
Our largest investment has been at Rugby and Alconbury. This is because both Rugby and Alconbury are much further along on their development stages. We expect to increase investment at all our strategic land sites, as each development stage progresses.
For example, our team at Rugby invested around 160 hours in 2017 as a member of St Gabriel’s Church of England Academy board of directors where we have an active role in the delivery of the school with the Diocese of Coventry. Over in Alconbury, Rebecca Britton is a school governor at Ermine Street Church Academy and is a board member at Groundwork East, collectively spending over 200 hours helping with key local community activities.
Rebecca Britton hosting the “Secrets of Scaling Up” Event, Alconbury
U&C Non-executives site visit to St Gabriel’s Church of England Academy at Houlton
Hours invested by staff into non-obligatory initiatives
total hours invested
We aim to use our capabilities and investment to provide communities with new facilities and lasting improvements to what already exist.
Last year we reported on our support for the Waterbeach Toddler Playgroup; however, this year another, perhaps more surprising, example is the work we have done at Waterbeach to create space for those resting in peace. A growing resident population and our long term view of community development meant we needed to consider what the residents of Waterbeach will need throughout their lives, including right at the end. In 2017 we organised an extension to the village cemetery, so that by the end of the year an acre of Barracks land will be handed over to the Parish Council to provide additional space for burials. We also helped with landscaping – including tree planting and grass seeding the new area, and upgraded paths within the existing cemetery to make them wider with wheelchair and pushchair friendly surfaces.
In 2017, we also published “The History of Rugby Radio Station” in partnership with Aviva, with all proceeds from book sales donated to Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance. From our early community engagement, we understood that the radio masts and the station’s history were really important to local people, so we decided that the book would be a good way to ensure that the heritage lived on. Sales of the book have raised around £6,000 for Warwickshire Air Ambulance.
Over at Alconbury, we invested in our Green Skills initiative to provide skills and employment projects for long-term unemployed people with access to jobs on site and in the local area. The team created the allotments for new residents, and 100 per cent went on to employment with the local A14 Delivery Group. Our “Top Secret” initiative, which provides ongoing support for a project engaging young people in historical research, creative expression, promotion and event management, worked with two local schools, local heritage groups and the neighbouring US Air Force base, reaching around 1,000 people.
With the first residents soon to join us at Houlton and the school opening in 2018, we have been busy transforming the former radio station site at Rugby into a vibrant community with The Tuning Fork cafe, community barn and Visitor Centre already open. Maintaining our focus on community and local businesses we have also invested in Swynford Stores – a shop selling everyday essentials at Alconbury, and run by Adrian and Samantha Wardman, who run the community store in neighbouring Abbots Ripton. The store opened in July and will evolve with the community to provide the right goods at the most useful opening hours, and additional services such as a satellite post office.
In September, a year on from the first arrivals on site, Community Development Worker Steph Burton hosted Alconbury Weald’s first residents forum. After a breakfast stroll along the new cycleway and an update on site development, residents discussed future community facilities and social events, and fed back on existing services. There was great enthusiasm for new landscaping and play areas, and a strong sense of pride and community in maintaining the quality of development delivered. Plans for the future include an Allotment Association and regular forums that could pave the way for a new Parish Council.
In all we invested time, energy and resources in 44 community activities, reaching over 100,000 people during the year. We aim to maintain and where relevant increase this kind of investment in the future.
CASE STUDY - PUTTING SCHOOLS FRONT AND CENTRE
With the school in place, The Tuning Fork, The Barn and the Visitor Centre, Houlton already has a community feel and is just the right place for young families such as ours.
Malcolm Hancock and Johanne Thomas with Warwickshire and Northamptonshire’s Air Ambulance crew.
Our Green Skills team celebrating delivery of the allotments at Alconbury
The Urban&Civic team is encouraged to contribute its time to charitable activities. In 2017 we saw more volunteering than ever and, as in previous years, cyclists led the charge. Colleagues on bikes raised money for a range of charities. David Wood and Oluwole Ogunleye completed The London to Brighton Challenge (on a tandem) for the British Heart Foundation. Joining them was Frances Chan, who rode solo.
Others ran to raise money. Phil Partridge completed the Berlin Marathon in September and raised around £1,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. A Catesby team of David Morris, Myron Osborne, Ed Barrett and Phil Partridge joined over 200 professionals from across the property and construction industry at the inaugural LandAid Midlands 10K in Longbridge, Birmingham, in September. LandAid seeks to end youth homelessness and the money raised will help support local charity St Basils to convert an empty property into a home for 18 young people at risk of homelessness.
Not everyone felt the need to get out of breath to help. Richard Hepworth remains a fundraiser and Trustee of St Teresa’s Hospice in Darlington and was Chair of their Development Committee this year. Under his watch, the hospice recently completed a new ten bedroom in-patient unit. Heather Williams volunteered as a minute secretary to LandAid, covering the Board and Finance and Audit Committee. We support all our colleagues’ charitable endeavours and we are immensely proud of their achievements.
David Wood and Oluwole Ogunleye approaching the finish line.