How do you know if a new enterprise will be worth its investment? Placemaking expert Sandra Perez sets out the fundamentals of putting together a business case to deliver welcoming and viable projects on our high streets.

In recent years, wavering economic outlooks have presented formidable challenges to the investment case for high streets. Existing businesses find themselves engaged in a battle for survival, while new ventures struggle to gain a foothold amidst a sea of uncertainty. The establishment of an enterprise typically demands substantial upfront capital, followed by a delicate period of incubation. However, when financial resources are scarce, securing funding for high street investments becomes an even greater hurdle to overcome. Consequently, the potential for innovation and entrepreneurship on high streets risks being stifled, which in turn threatens the overall vibrancy and diversity of local economies.

In this Q&A, we delve into the insights of placemaking expert Sandra Perez, who explains how the creation of a business case can serve as a powerful tool for organisations to maximize their chances of entering the high street arena successfully.

Sandra answers three questions:

  1. What is a business case?
  2. Why use business cases?
  3. When is the right time to look at a business case?

At its core, a business case can help to identify key success factors and potential challenges, facilitating strategic planning and risk mitigation. As Sandra explains, the best business cases will look at the investment from several different perspectives. The HM Treasury recommends a Five Case Model:

  • Strategic Case – setting out goals and priorities
  • Financial Case – assigning money and resources
  • Economic Case – weighing up costs and benefits
  • Commercial Case – understanding supply and demand
  • Management Case – outlining delivery and operations

By presenting a well-structured and data-driven argument following this model, organisations can instil confidence in potential funders and stakeholders, increasing the likelihood of securing the necessary financial resources to support high street revitalisation efforts. Additionally, a comprehensive business case can help identify alternative funding sources, such as government grants, crowdfunding platforms, or strategic partnerships.

“Ultimately, a business case will give you the answer to the question: Is this investment worth it to me?”

Sandra Perez, Managing Consultant, Inner Circle Consulting

Sandra gives the example of Nourish Hub, a UK charity working to tackle food poverty and combat social isolation. By working closely with the project’s partners, including Hammersmith and Fulham Council, Sandra and her team built a robust business case, leading to a successful launch of the venture in a council-owned space in Sheperd’s Bush in February 2022.

About the expert

Sandra Perez is a Managing Consultant at Inner Circle Consulting, where she has a leading role in the Prosperous Places team. Sandra’s background is in architecture and placemaking She has more than ten years of experience delivering inclusive, prosperous places alongside local governments across the UK. More recently, Sandra has led the delivery of award-winning projects such as the Nourish Hub in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. It is her belief that design should always be about building relationships with people, engaging in conversation, and having the space to learn from and reflect the human condition, and that design should create social and economic value for everyone in a community.

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