Since returning from the RESI Convention last month, I’ve been reflecting on the changes I’ve seen at Homes England since I joined almost two years ago.
When I was given the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to move into this industry. I really wanted to be a part of the team creating a different kind of public delivery agency, with a more ambitious approach to forming partnerships that could get more homes built and start to fix long-standing problems in the market.
While Homes England remains relatively new – still growing and transforming – it has already been almost a year since we published our five-year Strategic Plan, in which we launched our mission to intervene in the market to get more homes built in the areas of greatest need, improve affordability and diversify the housing market.
We said we’d ‘disrupt’ the housing market to shake up housing delivery and since then, we’ve been working with a whole host of partners to deliver our priorities.
We’ve formed 23 strategic partnerships with housing associations to increase the supply of affordable homes; joined forces with Barclays to create a £1bn Housing Delivery Fund, providing finance to SME housebuilders; and invested in a deal between Japanese housebuilder Sekisui House and Urban Splash to boost modular construction, to name a few significant milestones.
We’re also being more active in the land market, taking on really complex sites and preparing them for development. This is increasingly including large sites where we are acting as a master-developer, unlocking land for the delivery of new homes where they are most needed.
Beyond the deals, we’ve also been transforming the agency from within. Leading Homes England’s Executive Office, which supports the agency to make the right connections and interventions in the housing market, I see how important it is to make sure the agency is in the best possible shape to make real change. It’s not just about what we do – how we do it is just as important.
One of the most exciting parts of this transformation has been creating a new directorate for service design. We’re bringing in expert service designers to look at what we can do better and how, working with our committed and talented teams to make sure we’re offering the very best services to change the supply chain and get more homes built. We’re spending public money and so we must make sure we’re getting the best from it.
We’re bringing in expert service designers to look at what we can do better and how
As I said during the RESI Trailblazers panel, changing an organisation at pace is a challenge. But we couldn’t disrupt the market and influence the sector to change if we hadn’t changed ourselves first.
What’s so great about events such as the RESI Convention is that they offer a chance to find out how we’re landing as a new organisation, engaging with decision-makers from across the industry and seeking new commercial opportunities in the residential market. We want to open up conversations – which we did plenty of at RESI – as well as listen, challenge and involve our partners to make sure we’re continually improving our offer.
Homes England is no longer a reactive organisation that hides behind funding streams. We want to talk to you, partner with you and make homes happen together.
Amy Casterton is chief of staff at Homes England