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Neighbouring social housing associations could team up to invest £500m in much-needed new low-cost homes

Wed 24 July 2019

Two leading north Essex housing associations could combine their strengths to build thousands of much-needed affordable homes.  

Colchester-based Colne Housing and Braintree-based Greenfields Community Housing are having exploratory partnership talks.

Their shared vision is to combine their financial strengths to invest £500m in genuinely affordable homes in five years. Most will be available for people on the housing register in north Essex and Suffolk, and some will be available to buy through the Shared Ownership scheme.

The chief executives of both housing associations have written to all residents to let them know that their homes and services are not affected by the proposal and that it remains at an early stage.

Colne Housing, which builds around 150 new affordable properties a year, approached Greenfields, a well-respected Community Gateway organisation, which offers residents a share in the organisation and opportunities to shape its services from the ground up.

If they joined forces, the new organisation would be community-focused and able to offer much more to local people and strengthen the say residents have in services.

Sara Thakkar, Colne’s Chief Executive, said: “We are leading this exciting opportunity in direct response to the housing shortage as part of Colne’s ‘bigger, better, bolder’ strategy which was agreed in 2016.

“Working with Greenfields would allow us to pool our strengths so we can do more for people in desperate need of housing.

“We will be involving our residents and employees and hope to provide an update later this year.”

Emma Palmer, Greenfields’ Chief Executive, said: “There is an increasing expectation that housing associations need to deliver value for money and the best services. I’m really pleased that Greenfields and Colne are exploring ways to do just that.

“We share similar values – with customers at the heart of all we do – and our strengths would complement each other.”

The boards of Greenfields and Colne are now working to put together a formal proposal which will be considered later this year.

There are 22,000 people on the Essex housing register, 2,750 of them in Braintree district and 4,392 in the borough of Colchester.

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Neighbouring social housing associations could team up to invest £500m in much-needed new low-cost homes

Colne's Chief Executive Sara Thakkar (left) and Greenfield's Chief Executive Emma Palmer (right).