Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

Social Value: “Force for Good – Or the Emperor’s New Clothes?” A dubious dilemma

The Professor

Worrisomely, I have been somewhat conflicted over the past few weeks. Academically and philosophically, I am engrossed in conjuring up a Keynote Address for an international conference in the autumn proselytising “A Commons Transition” in which a post-capitalist market and a more enlightened state are at the service of the citizens as commoners. Professionally and practically, I have been engaged, on behalf of a property development company, in disentangling the intricacies of the Social Value Act.

“Doing well by doing good” has long been a familiar dictum in both the ethical business and the responsible built environment milieux. Sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the phrase seems forever fashionable, yet remains remarkably vague. Its latest manifestation over recent years has been in the field of Social Value (SV), which has grown out of the thinking surrounding corporate responsibility, ethical economics, social enterprise and valuation.

All responsible parties to the process of urban development are becoming more keenly focused on ensuring ‘genuine’ value for money in the delivery of improvements to the built environment for everyone concerned. But it takes time, and the property industry is already finding it a lengthy, tortuous and formidable journey.

Real Estate Realities

Whilst recognising the growing need for better ways to account for social, economic and environmental value in framing property investment and development decisions, a range of issues worthy of consideration emerge regarding present practice. Some of these can best be summarised as follows:

The Professor

About John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe

John Ratcliffe is President of The Futures Academy, which he founded in 2000, and a Fellow of Oxford Brookes University. Until 2009, he was a Director of the Dublin Institute of Technology, where he remains as Professor Emeritus. In the past, he has served as: Secretary-General of the World Futures Studies Federation; Vice-President of the European Futurists Conference; Chairman of the London Branch of the RICS, and first Chair of the Institution’s International Policy Committee; and, Chairman of the European Policy and Practice Committee for the Urban Land Institute. A prolific author and public orator, he has acted as a consultant to countries, cities, corporations, colleges and communities in the area of Strategic Foresight, and is currently conducting several projects in the fields of: “Cities of Tomorrow”; “Future Horizons for Global Real Estate”; and, “Anticipatory Leadership”. Familiarly, his favourite adage is Einstein’s: “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Articles by John Ratcliffe

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