Stronger together: Greenfields and Colne merger approved

Stronger together: Greenfields and Colne merger approved
23rd April 2020 James Calnan

Two Essex housing associations are to merge and create a new 12,000 home social landlord on 1 July 2020.

The Boards of Colne Housing and Greenfields Community Housing have approved a formal business case. This sets out how the merger will result in more affordable homes, improved services and communities and a stronger ‘resident voice’ in Essex and Suffolk.

The combined organisation will be called Eastlight Community Homes, subject to approval in May by Greenfields’ resident shareholders. It was chosen following extensive engagement with tenants, leaseholders, staff and stakeholders.

Eastlight Community Homes will adopt the Community Gateway ethos of Greenfields, which ensures residents can choose to become shareholders and help make key decisions about their homes, services and communities.

By combining their strengths, Eastlight will have a turnover of £68 million a year. Eastlight will build up to 1,300 extra homes in addition to the 2,500 currently planned over five years, while spending an extra £8 million on residents’ homes.

Emma Palmer, Greenfields’ Chief Executive and designate CEO of Eastlight Community Homes, said: “This merger is a fantastic opportunity to do so much more for residents and future generations in need of affordable homes.

“Our shared vision is to create a trailblazing organisation with empowered residents who have a real say and influence on both their services and our strategic direction.”

Last year, Colne, which has 3,200 homes in north Essex and Suffolk, invited larger housing associations to explore working together to further tackle the housing crisis in the East of England. The proposal, called ‘Unlocking Eastern Potential’, led to the partnership with 8,900 home Greenfields.

Sara Thakkar, Chief Executive of Colne and designate Deputy Chief Executive, said: “Eastlight Community Homes will deliver value for money and better services for the local communities we serve.

“We are really proud to be stronger together and look forward to shaping a brighter future with our residents, people and partners.”

Hattie Llewelyn-Davies has been selected Chair designate of the shadow board and Dale Butcher is the Vice Chair. David Hall is the designate Executive Director for Resources and David Hart the designate Finance Director. Other Executive and Board appointments will be made in the coming weeks.

Residents have been sent a letter advising of the merge and advising that their homes and services are not affected.

Greenfields’ shareholders will be invited to support the proposed name at a Special General Meeting on 21 May. Find out more here: www.greenfieldsch.org.uk/sgm-2020