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THE BIG INTERVIEW


Housing Programme, and NCHA stands in a good position to get a slice of the funding as one of Homes England’s 23 strategic partners in a joint venture with Longhurst. Delivered alongside a new, more accessible model for


shared ownership to help more people get on the property ladder, it is the highest single funding commitment to affordable housing since the Conservatives took office in 2020. Paul believes this is because politicians now understand


how a warm and secure home is the foundation for people to have a “successful” life. “I do feel I hear more about housing now than I did 10


years ago,” he says. “It’s a very aspirational and emotive aspect of politics.


There’s a ladder that some people climb from social to privately rented housing, and then potentially buying their own home one day – perhaps via shared ownership. We call it staircasing and housing associations play a vital role in these transitions through the different stages of people’s lives.” This all-encompassing role of housing associations is why


Paul is keen to point out their social roots. He adds: “What I’ve learned over the past 20 years is


that it’s more of a housing association movement, rather than just being a sector. And when it comes to social and affordable housing, it’s a powerful movement.”


SUSTAINABLE HOUSING


New environmental standards have been drawn up by NCHA as it responds to the greater emphasis on sustainability. The housing association has made a pledge to make


its existing homes more energy-efficient and use low- carbon heating - bringing it in line with the 2025 Future Homes Standard. Paul said: “This is going to be a big driver from a


buyer’s perspective going forward. We’re looking at finding the best technologies to meet the standards, which might include ground and air source heat pumps, as well as solar panels and various insulation products. The biggest challenge is going to be financial." The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy wants as


many rented homes as possible to be upgraded to the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2030. About three-quarters of NCHA's stock is at this level


and Paul says the industry will need capital grant funding to achieve the target. Aligned to all this is Nottingham City Council’s


stated target of being carbon-neutral by 2028 – the most ambitious scheme of its kind in the UK. Paul says these various schemes and stated targets


has focused minds at NCHA, which will also consider its footprint as a business through the supply chain and annual carbon reporting. “Having our own standard and pulling everything


together into something more coherent has to be the way to go,” he adds.


NCHA BY NUMBERS


1973 When Nottingham Community Housing Association was founded 20,000 People living in its ho uses across the East Midlands 9,500


6,000 Homes built by NCHA since 1973


£87m Annual turnover of NCHA £500m Total value of its properties 1,100 30


Employees Local authorities it works with 1 million Hours of care provided annually 38 business networkOctober 2020


Homes it manages in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire


NCHA plans to move out of its Sherwood House head office in the coming years


HOUSING IN TOWN AND CITY CENTRES


Until now, people have been expected to travel to where their employers are based – but plans to move NCHA’s head office could signal a new era for the workplace. The organisation, currently headquartered in Sherwood Rise, recently bought the


former Nottingham College site in Farnborough Road, Clifton. It is due to move in 2023 and create a mix of office and supported living residential


development, while keeping some of the recreational facilities. With many people predicting the end for the traditional commute to city centres en


masse, Paul believes it would be a good idea for employers to instead move into cheaper suburban areas. He says: “I could see more companies moving to residential locations so they go to


where the employees are, rather than paying city centre prices and asking everyone to go to them. “We do have tenants coming into our office, although that’s reduced over the years.


We don’t need to be a city centre service, and building outside the city centre is more our natural environment.” The deal for the site went through during the pandemic and Paul admits the rise of


remote working has brought up interesting questions about the use of space. “How many staff we cater for in a new office is one of them,” he says. “It’ll be


different to how it is now, so we will consider more agile working." The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) UK residential market survey in


August found that 83% of people in the East Midlands anticipate demand to grow for homes with gardens and outside space over the next two years, while 79% predicted rising demand for properties located near green space. Paul agrees, saying: “People of working and school age who have had to work


remotely have found that having an office space or a kitchen table is really important. If you don’t have those in your house, then Covid-19 has been more difficult for you. “They’ve also realised how important it is to have some sort of outdoor space


during lockdown. “So for us, we need to think more about the types of homes that people want and


find easier to live in with what we know now.” However, he still believes there is a place for city centre flats, pointing to how his


children, aged 17 and 22, would prefer to live within the buzz of a city rather than suburbs or towns. “It’s a generational bias,” he adds. “There’s something about having that proximity


to where everything is going on, but we need to think about making people more comfortable."


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