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affordablehousingnews


RSL chair awarded OBE for services to housing


Johanna Holmes (pictured), the chair of East London and Essex RSL East Homes has been awarded an OBE for services to the housing sector in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Holmes, who has been chair of East Homes since 2007, and also sits on the board of East Homes’ parent company East Thames, was a founding manager of consultants Chapman Hendy Associates (now Tribal). She has also previously worked as chief executive of Women’s Pioneer Housing, assistant regional manager (monitoring and regulation) at the Housing Corporation and for Paddington Churches Housing Association (now part of the Genesis Group). She continues to work as a consultant to local authorities, chiefly on youth homelessness, and is also a Trustee of HACT. “I’m thrilled to receive the OBE. It was a total surprise and I’m very appreciative of the support I’ve received from everyone at East Homes and elsewhere in the social housing and homelessness sectors,” said Holmes. East Thames chief executive June Barnes said: “I’m delighted Johanna has been awarded an OBE for her services to the housing sector. Johanna has been very influential in a whole host of prominent housing roles and we’ve been really lucky to have her as our Chair over the last four years, helping us improve and build up the business.”


KEEPMOAT TOBUILD £5 MILLION SCHEME FOR NORTH DEVON HOMES


Regeneration specialists Keepmoat has signed a £5.3 million contract to build new homes in Barnstaple, for RSL North Devon Homes. Frank Haslam Milan (FHM), one of Keepmoat subsidiaries will build 65 two- and three-bedroom family properties at the scheme, which is backed by a £2.45 million investment from the HCA. Rob Gort, project manager at FHM, said: “We are delighted to have signed this contract which cements our expansion in the south-west and marks the first time we have worked with North Devon Homes.We are also proud of the environmental aspects of the scheme as the homes have been built to Code 3 under the government’s Code for Sustainable Homes. They are timber framed and come with solar panels and are likely to help residents save money on their household bills.” Stephen Snooks, regeneration project manager for North Devon Homes, said: “We are very pleased to be working with FHM in the delivery of this latest phase of works at Forches which will contribute to the overall regeneration of the area.We are succeeding in creating a community for people which closely matches their aspirations. The new housing will offer residents an even better choice of high quality homes including shared ownership options.”


Northern Ireland facing mergers to improve performance


Northern Ireland’s new housing minister, Nelson McCausland, has said he expects to see mergers among the 32 housing associations in Northern Ireland following poor assessment results. Speaking in his first interview since his appointment in May, McCausland’s comment followed previous housing minister Alex Attwood’s March statement that seven housing associations – Helm, Rural, Habinteg, Dungannon and District, Harmony Homes, Filor and Shac – would be banned from building after failing to meet acceptable standards. “We’re looking at how we can address this shortcoming through mergers,’ said


McCausland. He also said a review of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which owns 90,000 houses, will continue. The NIHE had a £100 million budget shortfall in 2009/10. McCausland said bringing empty homes into use is his top priority: “There are substantial numbers of houses in some estates that are bricked up and would require quite substantial work. We have a scheme in Londonderry where a housing association acquires the homes from the authority and gets the funding to renovate them. It’s helping to address the housing need, and it improves communities.”


HCA pressures RSLs to build more family homes


The Homes and Communities Agency is “leaning on social landlords to increase the number of family-size homes they have bid to fund through the affordable rent programme” after a disappointing response, according to Inside Housing, which has revealed the contents of a leaked HCA document. The document shows the initial offers of housing associations in 13 north and west London


56| July 2011 showhouse


boroughs. Between them, they submitted bids to build 8,605 homes, 21 per cent of which (1,824 units) are family homes with three or more bedrooms. This is just half of the London mayor’s target of 42 per cent for new social rented homes. The HCA’s affordable rent framework document says: ‘The mayor will expect providers to come forward with proposals which contain a significant element of three-bedroom or larger units.”


Following the leak, RSLs told Inside Housing the HCA is leaning on them to increase their plans for larger homes, following sector worries that benefit caps will make larger properties unaffordable for tenants, thus making it riskier to build larger homes. Keith Exford, chief executive of Affinity Sutton said: “Family-size homes are the most difficult to work with in terms of affordability and risk.”


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