Housing Plus Group has marked the one-year anniversary of its merger with Stafford and Rural Homes with a progress report on its pledge to build more affordable housing in Staffordshire and Shropshire.
When the expanded Group was launched in October 2019, chief executive Sarah Boden promised that it would: “Make a positive difference to homes, lives and communities.” She explained that the £100m turnover Group would do that by focusing its resources on improving its existing housing stock, beginning to build 2,000 new homes for rent, shared ownership and outright sale by 2023, creating 100 apprenticeships in its first five years and providing more care and support for older people.
“Although our operating landscape has been radically redrawn in the pandemic, we haven’t lost sight of those commitments and have made incredible progress in our first year together,” she said.
“We have already invested £30m building 211 homes for below market rent and a further 80 for low cost ownership. As a result, we have been included for the first time in the annual Top 50 Biggest Builders report, published by Inside Housing magazine.”
Ambitious building projects are set to continue for the Group, whose members include Severnside Housing, South Staffordshire Housing Association, Stafford and Rural Homes, Care Plus, and Severn Homes. Later this year it will officially open Wren House, a flagship development of 80 apartments on the corner of Riverway and Lammascote Road in Stafford and work is also underway to create new retirement homes in Kinver. In one of the most significant land acquisitions in the area, Housing Plus Group purchased 22.4 acres of land in Perton, where it plans to build up to 220 new homes.
“We recognise that one of the most important roles that we have is as a good employer, providing better life opportunities for local people,” said Sarah Boden. “Our expanded Group now employs more than 800 people and we are able to offer improved career pathways within our organisation. I am delighted to say that we now employ 36 apprentices, with a further 16 colleagues using apprenticeship training to boost their skills and improve their job prospects. We are looking forward to recruiting more apprentices, very soon.”
The Group is also marking the successful conclusion of the first year following its merger with the purchase of an established nursing home in Shropshire. Its provision now includes specialist housing for 2,000 older people, at-home care and a 24:7 Telecare response service.
“We are proud of how far we have been able to deliver on our merger commitments this year,” said Sarah Boden. The chief executive continued: “In uniquely challenging times for our customers and staff, though, I’m personally very proud of the way that everyone in our Group pulled together to protect essential services and support local communities.
“Working differently, we made more than 30,000 reassurance calls to elderly and vulnerable customers, provided money and employment advice to people at a very worrying time and continued to keep families safe by maintaining emergency repairs and vital safety checks. We set out to make a positive difference and at a time of crisis, the strength and resilience we developed through merger meant that we could do that.”