Derwent Living prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary
Created on Monday, May 19th, 2014
by Steve Atkin
DERBY-based housing provider Derwent Living is this week celebrating its golden anniversary after 50 years in business.
Against the backdrop of post-war optimism and change, local building society manager Francis Eric Naylor and Ilkeston solicitor Herbert Brewer founded Derwent Housing in 1964 – in a small office above an estate agency in Derby.
Its focus on providing co-ownership housing for working people in the East Midlands shifted in the 1970’s to affordable rent and shared ownership before expanding into areas including accommodation for older people and supporting those fleeing domestic violence throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. It was not until 2004 that the organisation rebranded to Derwent Living.
In 2011, Aviva Investors agreed a £45 million deal to fund the transfer of 839 properties from Home Group to Derwent Living in a first for the UK housing sector – a far cry from its first properties built at Derwent Court in Willington some 46 years ago.
Now based at Pride Park, the organisation employs more than 750 staff and owns or manages some 25,000 properties across the UK.
Chief executive Peter McCormack said: “From such small beginnings our organisation has seen unbelievable growth over the years. It’s credit to our planning, ventures, skill and innovation that we have continued to excel and grow. Indeed the culture of doing things differently is something that I feel stands the organisation apart.”
Peter added: “We’ve always looked for emerging markets and opportunities where we can use our skills to make a real difference. It’s through these continued efforts that we are able to continue to build new affordable homes with very little grant funding.
“Although the organisation has seen huge change over the last few years, it has continually worked to improve its efficiency, driving down operating costs whilst continuing to meet customer need and improve levels of satisfaction.
“As we look forward to the next few years, we need to look at how we can evolve our services. By 2033 housing associations will be responsible for housing a fifth of the UK population. With that massive responsibility is the need to become more efficient, using new technologies to deliver improving services and to reduce costs.”
Today, the business includes subsidiaries in facilities management – Derwent FM – and large scale student accommodation – Derwent Students. Its operation now spans the country, with new student accommodation under management as far north as Glasgow. To commemorate the anniversary the organisation has created a special online exhibition, which charts the organisation’s beginnings right up to the present day. It can be viewed at www.derwentlivingat50.com