Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Housing association plans merger with London trust

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Bjorn Howard

 

Devizes based housing association Aster Group and London-based housing trust Central and Cecil have confirmed plans to merge, subject to final business case approval later this year.

The partnership with the 1,850-home London housing trust would enable the combined group to expand its service offering and boost both organisations’ capacity to build new homes.

The two entities would have the capacity to deliver 12,000 homes by 2030 – an estimated £2.5 billion investment – and enable £571m worth of asset management, maintenance, improvements, and sustainability upgrades to existing stock.

Established in 1926, C&C, specialises in providing affordable housing and care for over 55s living in London, promoting supportive, inclusive communities across all its homes.

C&C would retain its brand and stock, and there would be no interruption to the services provided by either organisation to their customers.

Bjorn Howard, group CEO of Aster Group, said: “Social housing will play a central role in our nation’s recovery post-Covid-19 and it is essential that we are in the best possible position to build much-needed new affordable homes and offer vital services to a diverse range of customers.

"Our partnership with C&C would help us achieve both of those fundamental ambitions and see us provide access to quality, affordable homes in central London for the first time in our organisation’s history.

“C&C’s expertise would help to further evolve the services the group as a whole offers to customers and as a combined business we would have greater scope for innovation, and in the transformation of digital services as well as providing employees with a strong and competitive offer.

"The expanded capacity created by the partnership would also enable us to invest more in new and existing homes than either organisation could alone.”

Julia Ashley, CEO of C&C, said: “For C&C, this would present a fantastic opportunity to meet the growing demand for over 55s housing and care in London and beyond.

"By partnering with an organisation that shares our values and aspirations, we could invest far more in our homes, services, colleagues and new technologies, and be even more ready to meet a growing demand.”

If a final business case is approved later this year, Aster Group and C&C say the combined group would be able to:

  • Further develop and improve our assets and customer services
  • Build 700 more homes and help tackle the national housing shortage for over 55s in housing and care
  • Invest more in current homes to meet the wider challenges facing society like an ageing population and climate change

If approved, the move would be Aster’s second merger in the last 18 months, having entered a partnership with Dorset-based East Boro Housing Trust (EBHT) in early 2020.

The combined group – Aster, EBHT and C&C – would have a total portfolio of 34,500 homes, servicing around 100,000 customers.