Locality Brokers matches private sector property professionals with communities championing a planning, land or building project in England for mutual benefit.
A growing number of community-led organisations are directly involved in neighbourhood planning, affordable housing development, and the acquisition and management of land or buildings for the public good. The vast majority will require advice and support from property professionals at some stage in their journey, but often don’t know where to begin.
Locality Brokers aims to address this problem, by helping community organisations prepare well to become informed clients and then matching them up with property professionals.
Many people are familiar with the idea of pro bono advice and support, and there are a number of schemes designed to introduce professionals to communities on this basis. However, research conducted by Locality indicates there are significant gaps in existing provision.
Professionals and community organisations also tend to encounter a number of common challenges when working with one another – the combination of which, Locality believes, is constraining the potential for the growth of mutually beneficial working arrangements.
Locality Brokers is designed to overcome the ‘natural limits to giving’ upon which existing schemes of this type are typically structured, by harnessing the unique pipeline of community-led planning and asset development initiatives known to Locality.
Specifically, the pilot scheme explored relationships that could benefit both property professionals and community groups through a mixture of pro bono advice, deferred payment arrangements and joint ventures to produce tangible business and social benefits.
Locality Brokers is now offering a range of services to community organisations looking to acquire property, refurbish or undertake a new build project. These include:
- A full brokerage service to help community organisations prepare their project ready for matching with a professional.
- A series of expert webinars covering essential topics to help prepare for the process.
- Case study learning and networking events, bringing together community organisations and professionals to learn from a team that recently completed a building project.
- An online directory and contract opportunity service, advertising organisations’ requirements to an expanding range of suppliers on Locality Brokers’ register of suppliers.
Locality was awarded £50,000 in the second round of the Innovation in Giving Fund to work with 10 community initiatives and professional firms in 2012-13 and to capture and disseminate the learning from the pilot scheme and explore business models to underpin expansion plans.