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RIBA backs ‘crowd funding’ model

The RIBA and British Property Federation have thrown their weight behind an innovative funding model which allows communities to ‘crowd source’ the money needed to build new facilities

The online hub – known as Spacehive – was co-designed by consulting company Deloitte and has won the backing of Stephen Fry, Martha Lane Fox, Asda, Tesco and Admiral.

The site works by allowing anyone with an idea to pitch it online and, once it has been certified by the site and achieves the necessary funding, it can go ahead and be built.

Capita Symonds’ £792,000 community centre for the South Wales ex-mining town of Glyncoch is one of the first projects to benefit from the scheme.

The project was funded by a large number of small donations from companies and individuals and netted £54,000 for the architect and contractor Encon Construction in fees.

Former RIBA president Sunand Prasad said: ‘The future of architects lies in taking the initiative and generating projects rather than responding to clients’ invitations. I think Spacehive could be very good news for practices.

‘It creates an exciting online marketplace where anyone can pitch project ideas directly to the public. If they’re popular, they can raise funding direct from their supporters - from local people and businesses, to councils and grant bodies.’

British Property Federation chief executive Liz Peace said: ‘We support the government’s intention to create a planning system that supports economic growth but the reality is nearly £300m of funding for capital public space developments has been lost.

‘Enabling the public to take direct action through could help ensure vital improvements go ahead by channelling funding from companies and individuals.’

Spacehive founder Chris Gourlay said: ‘Success in Glyncoch, one of the UK’s most deprived towns, really shows the potential power of Spacehive’s model in helping communities to transform where they live.

‘This isn’t about privatising planning. The state mustn’t shrink from its responsibilities. It’s just an approach that allows communities cut through the inertia and make popular projects happen. We think town planning should be faster, more people-powered, and more fun.’

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