Stakeholder Engagement

The nature of our work means that we have many stakeholders, representing a wide variety of groups. Some of our stakeholders have an interest in what we do on individual development sites, whereas others have an interest at a strategic, corporate level. We need to have a range of different methods to engage with all of these stakeholders, to understand their opinions and respond to their requirements. Getting this engagement right is fundamental to the success of our business and also helps us to develop our approach to sustainability and the plan for the business, Our Vision. We have highlighted our key stakeholders below and briefly explained how we engage with them.

We want all of our employees to fully understand and engage with both Our Vision framework and our efforts to improve sustainability performance. We think it is important that employees feel they have influence and ownership over the framework and its outcomes.

Early in 2012 we sought feedback from employees working in different parts of the business and in a range of different roles during the process of setting the next phase of our Vision2020 commitments and ambitions. They provided their thoughts on our proposals which we took into account when finalising our commitments and ambitions for the period 2012-2014.

We welcome comments from all employees on our approach and regularly invite feedback during meetings and training sessions. At our offices, the Green Office Champions often encourage staff to get involved in developing our approach to managing office related sustainability impacts. For example, at our office in Sevenoaks we have a sustainability suggestion box for staff to post their ideas on how to make the office more sustainable.

We also provide regular communication to our employees on sustainability using company-wide emails, regular briefings, bespoke sustainability training and company conferences. All employees receive an electronic copy of our Sustainability Report each year so they can read about the evolution of Our Vision and our latest sustainability performance.

Our reputation amongst our customers is critical to securing sales, increasing repeat purchases and enhancing our reputation. We sell homes and commercial space to a wide variety of customers including individual purchasers, registered social landlords, major property investors, financial institutions and commercial operators.

Each year we undertake a customer survey which includes questions focused on understanding customer awareness of sustainability and their purchasing preferences. We use this information to ensure we deliver homes that meet their requirements and to inform where we focus our future sustainability efforts. For example, in our 2011 survey a very high proportion of customers told us that they would be interested if they were offered a range of sustainability features as options on their home. As a result, we adopted a Vision2020 commitment in 2012 to provide customers with a 'sustainability options' package on selected developments. The results of our 2012 customer survey can be found in our annual sustainability report.

We actively raise awareness of sustainability to our customers to help them to live more sustainable lifestyles. In addition, sustainability information is provided in our sales and marketing suites, through tailored marketing materials including posters and brochures, as well as being featured on the development websites.

Listening, understanding and responding to the needs of local people is essential in securing community support for development proposals and ensuring that we deliver sustainable communities. People's interests vary from location to location, but local communities are - unsurprisingly - most concerned with how the development will affect their everyday lives. The Berkeley Group is committed to listening to these concerns, as well as to the community's aspirations, and working with local people to find appropriate solutions for every development.

We believe our approach to sustainability and our commitment to stakeholder engagement enables faster planning permissions and better designed schemes that meet the aspirations of the local community. Our comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy has been re-written to reflect some of the best consultation strategies we have previously employed, taking account of the feedback we have received from our communities. These are used on all new projects and exceed statutory requirements, allowing us to enter into a genuine dialogue with those who can affect or may be affected by our developments. We use a range of methods of engagement, such as community planning weekends, meetings and telephone helplines, as well as various methods of communication such as newsletters and websites.

We are currently working with local communities to understand the impacts our developments have on social sustainability. The results of this work will help us learn and continually improve the way we create successful places.

To see examples of how we have engaged with local communities, see our two case studies: 

Woodberry Down lies in the north-west of the London Borough of Hackney. Having fallen into disrepair, in 2002, Hackney Council undertook a full structural assessment of the estate with a view to remaking the place. Three years later, Berkeley was selected as the preferred developer to work in partnership with the Council and Genesis Housing on the regeneration of Woodberry Down.

In 2011, Woodberry Down won a national award for best social housing development. This case study looks at two of the principal reasons behind its success: successful partnership working and community participation.

The former Atkinson Morley Hospital site was purchased by Berkeley early in 2010. At the time it was a contentious site locally, due to previously granted planning permission for a high-density development with small units, which residents did not think sat comfortably within the surrounding area.

This case study examines the process that Berkeley went through to deliver a better quality scheme, which resulted in a positive consensus at the planning committee. In the context of a new National Planning Policy Framework, it examines how Berkeley, the council and community were able to arrive at a solution that everyone could support and explores what the localism agenda could learn from this development.

We outsource much of the development and construction process and work with approximately 7,500 contractors and suppliers, with an estimated value in excess of £450 million (excluding land purchases). This makes the potential scale of our sustainability impacts considerable, but this purchasing power also gives us the ability to drive sustainable innovation within the industry.

All new contractors that work with us are made aware of our sustainability policies and requirements through our Code of Practice for Sustainability Management on Construction Sites. This Code of Practice establishes the minimum requirements that we expect all of our contractors to meet.

We continue to work with our suppliers to obtain sustainable products which perform well and are of the quality that our customers expect.

We rely on our supply chain to help us develop to the high standards we are known for and believe in developing long-term relationships with our contractors to achieve this. These relationships encourage us to explore best practice solutions to sustainability issues by working together. We engaged with our key suppliers as part of our 2010/11 materiality report.

"We have found that The Berkeley Group is one of the more progressive clients with whom we work in terms of its approach to sustainability, which is integral to its procurement process and procedures on site. Notably at Chelsea Bridge Wharf we have worked with Berkeley to establish the source and environmental credentials of the supply chain for a number of materials that we are using in our facade....This approach to sustainability has been a factor in influencing Parry Bowen to look closely at its own procedures and we now are working on a sustainability programme to improve our performance"
Tim Bowen, Finance Director, Parry Bowen

"Your commitment to supporting your contractors is very reassuring to us and in turn has helped us to understand your position as a major developer."
MA Hickey & JG Hickey, Joint Managing Directors, Coinfords

The Berkeley Group works with a number of industry bodies and trade associations to promote good practice in sustainability. By working with these organisations, we are able to have a two way dialogue with the wider industry and ensure that we are aware of their response to, and influence over, the ever-changing sustainability agenda.

Examples of this include:

  • Participation in the House Builders Association Code for Sustainable Homes Reform Group
  • Participation in the Zero Carbon Hub Energy Work Group
  • Participation in the UK-GBC Task Group on Legal Frameworks for Sustainable Community Infrastructure
  • Participation in the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network
  • Associate member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme
  • Chairmanship of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Property and Construction Committee during 2012

We also periodically participate in industry research to raise awareness of sustainability or improve industry performance. Recently this has included working with WRAP (Waste Resource Action Programme) on creating industry benchmarks and contributing information to the Greater London Authority for a study on energy policies.

Through engaging with NGOs as part of our 2010/11 materiality report, we received valuable feedback, further highlighting the need to focus on maximising the positive impact our work has in the long-term, whilst minimising our impact during construction.

Our investors are interested both in The Berkeley Group's financial performance and the factors that may affect that performance in the short and long-term. Our share price performance reflects the confidence our investors have in our board members, management teams and business model. We continue to engage with our investors to demonstrate that our approach to sustainability adds value to our business. In addition to making regular presentations to mainstream analysts, Berkeley continues to engage actively with socially responsible investors. In November 2012, Berkeley was ranked first in the NextGeneration sustainability performance benchmark of the top 25 housebuilders for the sixth year running. Berkeley also maintains its listing within FTSE4Good and continues to submit carbon information to CDP each year.

For more details on our external measures of success, click here.

The Government sets the context within which we operate through laws, regulations, general policy and strategy. Local Government sets the specific parameters within which individual developments take place. All of these levels of Government are placing an increasing emphasis on the role business can play in delivering sustainable development, and more specifically sustainable communities.

We aim to work with all levels of Government to inform their approach to sustainability. This includes responding to Government consultations, liaising with Councillors on planning matters, engaging with Members of Parliament (MPs) and hosting visits to our development sites.

View our recently consultant responses, click here.