Why it matters
We recognise that local initiatives can play an important role in improving and promoting central London, and are committed to being actively involved to promote their success.
What we're doing
By enhancing our local environment through local community initiatives we are able to improve the surroundings for our tenants.
Directors and Senior Management are encouraged to represent the Group’s views and contribute to the development of the property industry. We actively support a number of groups including the New West End Company, Westminster Property Association, British Property Federation, British Council of Offices and the Baker Street Quarter Partnership, Jermyn Street Association, Shoreditch Property Association and Better Bankshide in their work to address issues such as planning, transport and security.
We voluntarily match tenant contributions to the New West End Company to ensure that London's West End continues to be unsurpassed as a leading global destination.
On refurbishments and developments with construction costs of over £10 million, we work with our construction partners to identify and support relevant community initiatives such as apprenticeship schemes.
We recognise that if we are to encourage young people to enter the property and construction industry it is essential that we engage with educational establishments to provide students with opportunities to engage with the industry through on-site tours, presentations, work experience and mentoring. Our teams, therefore, are encouraged to engage with local schools, colleges and universities.
Section 106 payments
As part of the planning application process on developments, we are required to make financial contributions under Section 106 agreements with the relevant council. Where possible, we try to make sure that those funds are spent on improving the public realm in the immediate area around our development.
Repurposing vacant space
We encourage local galleries and charities to use our vacant space, where appropriate, for temporary exhibitions and presentations.
We encourage employees to support charitable initiatives and match their fundraising activities. Our employees and directors nominate four charities to support each year and our on-site Building Managers, in consultation with our tenants, nominate at least two charitable initiatives or events to support each year at their properties. We also support Land Aid through regular corporate donations and our Portfolio Director is a Board member of the Willow Foundation.
How we're performing
We actively participate in associations that work to promote and enhance central London.
Toby Courtauld is on the Strategic Board of the New West End Company. The Group make voluntary contributions to match those of its tenants to the New West End Company.
Supported and run by major retailers and property owners, its aim is to promote the commercial potential and build awareness of London's West End as the world's premier shopping destination through the promotion of the district, delivery of street management services and funding public realm projects to improve the shopping environment.
During the year Section 106 payments amounting to £2.6 million were made in connection with our developments at 95 Wigmore Street, Walmar House, 12/14 New Fetter Lane, 73/89 Oxford Street, 240 Blackfriars Road and Rathbone Square.
Supporting educational establishments
During the year ended March 2014 we supported the following educational establishments:
Through our 95 Wigmore Street, City Tower, Walmar House and 240 Blackfriars Road developments we supported local educational establishments in in a series of tours, talks and presentations at our development sites. Our Head of Development also attends regular meetings with a student at Reading University as a mentor.
Site based apprenticeship schemes
At our 240 Blackfriars Road development, 66 local people secured employment with our contractor Mace and their supply chain with 58 of these securing sustainable employment lasting 26 weeks or more. Open days were also provided to local job centres to provide pre-employment training for their candidates.
From 2008 to 2014 we invested £5.8 million in our local communities.
For the past six years we have supported West End Live, a unique theatre event that brings a selection of top productions out into the open for a weekend each June.
Asset Management Activities
During the year, our Asset Managers have let space at 90/92 Great Portland Street to Pump Aid who look to improve the quality and availability of water for communities in the developing world.
We have also let space at 21/23 Riding House Street to The Orchid Project, who specialise in campaigning for women’s human rights and at City Place House to Sedos (The Stock Exchange Drama and Operatic Society).
We have also supported the Bermondsey Street Festival
We encourage our Building Managers to work with our tenants to identify good causes to support through our buildings and support a variety of local and national charities. During the year ended March 2014 the following charities were supported:
- Help for Heroes
- Comic Relief
- The Poppy Appeal
- Children in Need
- Great Ormond Street
- St Joseph’s Hospice
- Cancer Research
- Born Free Foundation
- Macmillan Cancer Support
Other charitable activities
We encourage our employees to participate in their own charitable activities and match their fund raising efforts up to a value of £250 per event. Our directors and employees also nominate four charities to support for the financial year. For the year ended March 2014, these were:
- Shelter from the Storm provides hot meals and a warm bed to homeless people, they are London's only free homeless shelter, open all year round and receive no help from the government;
- Teenage Cancer Trust are the only charity dedicated to providing expert treatment and support to young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer in the UK.
- SWAN UK (Syndromes Without A Name) is a project run by Genetic Alliance UK offering support and information to families of children with undiagnosed genetic conditions; and
- Pancreatic Cancer UK is the only national charity fighting pancreatic cancer on all fronts: Support, Information, Campaigning and Research
As a company we support Land Aid by donating £10,000 per anum and by taking part in their fun run.
We also support Willow Foundation. Neil Thompson, our Portfolio Director is a member of the Willow Foundation Development Board. As president of the British Council of Offices, Neil Thompson nominated The Willow Foundation as the charity for the BCO conference in May 2013. This included the BCO bike ride, organised by Great Portland Estates which raised £50,000.
During the year ended March 2014 we donated £48,408 to charities, this does not include payments through Section 106 agreements or through lettings.
What we plan to do
Community investment is a long-term process and we will work hard to maintain our reputation for playing an active role in supporting activities that promote and improve our local surrounds.
For the year ended March 2015 we will:
- work with our construction partners to identify and support relevant community initiatives on refurbishments and developments with construction costs over £10 million;
- work with our construction partners to create 15 apprenticeships at our construction sites;
- organise five educational tours or presentations for local schools and colleges;
- consider how we can improve the local public realm within the various design stages of our developments;
- continue to support local partnerships such as the New West End Company and the Baker Street Quarter to promote and build awareness of London's West End and its businesses;
- continue to support local galleries and charities by providing them with space that would otherwise be empty;
- offer three work experience placements from local secondary schools within head office; and
- carry out a socioeconomic assessment at our Rathbone Place development.