Derwent Living unveils plans for growth

Created on Monday, December 12th, 2011
by Steve Atkin

Derwent Living is approaching the end of 2011 on a high as it reveals its ambitious plans for growth in its 2012 business plan.

The Derby-based housing provider is defying the downturn and despite difficult economic times, the organisation has prepared a robust new business plan which will see the company continue to grow well in to 2014, including the development of 650 much needed affordable homes.

To create the business plan, Derwent Living consulted with its residents and colleagues, as well as with stakeholders across its operating areas. The feedback gained through this consultation has been used in conjunction with information gathered by the organisation over the last three years, to develop a plan which reflects the company’s priorities and those of its customers.

Key themes in the company’s plan include its commitment to improving its repairs and other key services; improving levels of overall customer satisfaction to 90%; improving its existing housing stock through the Decent Homes Plus Standard; building 650 new homes (over 80% of which will be developed with private funding), and working with local authorities and agencies to maximise opportunities for development, community building and support job creation.

Peter McCormack, chief executive of Derwent Living says: “At a time when people are continuing to make cuts in the property sector and when major reductions are being made in public funding, most organisations have been forced to re-evaluate and downscale their plans for the future. I am pleased to say that our new plan clearly shows our intention to grow over the next two years.”

Although faced with challenging times over the last few years, the positive nature of the company’s business plan is as a result of strong financial management and the company’s innovative approach to developing its affordable housing business alongside its commercial ventures. Last year, Derwent Living secured a landmark £55million deal which saw 1135 properties transferred to its housing stock from another housing association.

The transfer brought Derwent Living’s stock total to around 15,000 properties – making it one of the largest housing associations in the Midlands. The deal was a UK first with pension funding and made available by Aviva Investors.

The deal, says Peter, was an innovative funding solution. “It was down to the imagination and persistence of the Derwent Living executive team and its board, and is a reflection of our commitment to finding new ways to raise finance. Our new plan goes one step further in doing this, as we intend to use surplus generated by our other commercial ventures to improve our existing housing stock and fund the building of much needed homes.”

One of Derwent Living’s most successful ventures to date has been its facilities management subsidiary Derwent FM, which has been steadily growing over the last year.

Peter continues: “Derwent FM is another success story for Derwent Living and it has won contracts from central government, health authorities and the education sector in the last 12 months, with no signs of slowing down. This, combined with our other ventures puts us in a strong position.

“As an organisation our main priority is to our customers, both existing and new. As well as continuing to provide much needed housing when there is limited funding available, we also recognise that we have to look at ways to improve the services we already carry out and the new plan highlights the areas we need to address. Through customer led reviews and a new performance management strategy, we pride ourselves on creating a culture where customers’ priorities are the basis of performance.”

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