Capital ideas – exclusive interview with Thames Valley Housing
Thames Valley Housing is one of the largest housing associations operating in London and the South East, with a stock of more than 14,600 homes. We spoke to Mark Allnut and Guy Burnett from TVH about some of their current projects and their outlook for 2014.
About Thames Valley Housing
Thames Valley Housing (TVH) was founded in 1966 as a housing business with a social purpose. The association provides affordable rented, shared ownership, market rent, student and key worker homes across the South East. TVH provided 817 new properties in the year 2011-12, comprising of 370 for social rent and 447 shared ownership homes. TVH currently boast three innovative commercial projects designed to generate profit to invest back in to homes for social rent; Fizzy, Opal Land and Evolution.
Allnut: "TVH has always had a commercial side and a very mixed portfolio of accommodation. We create profit by investing in commercial activity that in turn gifts our social aims. We need to continue to generate cross subsidies so we can carry on building affordable housing and making a difference to peoples' lives."
Burnett: "TVH has always been at the forefront of low cost and affordable home ownership. Our projects are all about choice - we're offering a lifestyle to our customers. Quality of product and service is vital to us, as we cover all bases to completion and beyond and much of what we build we retain."
Launched in 2012, Fizzy Living is TVH's private rental project aimed at the growing ‘rentysomething' generation of young professionals who are unable to get on to the housing ladder. The project boasts nearly 140 apartments in stylish developments in Canning Town and Epsom, and funding has been secured to expand its portfolio to 500 units.
Allnut: "We are investing heavily in buying land and creating a bespoke Fizzy product - a branded offering with a landlord you can trust. These apartments target 24-35 year olds, and as the brand grows we will continue to evolve our layouts to enhance sharer suitability. Professional sharers have certain requirements - they want properties with equally sized bedrooms, en suite bathrooms and plenty of storage space."
Burnett: "All of the properties in our first two developments are fully let, and we are now expanding into Poplar and Stepney with around 160 further apartments. Funding for Fizzy developments is ring fenced and is not dependent on any other project."
Opal Land LLP
Opal Land is a 50/50 build for sale venture in partnership with Galliford Try's residential arm, Linden Homes. The project is the first corporate joint venture of its kind between a housing association and a housebuilder where sites are serially added.
Burnett: "Opal is a joint venture aligned with our historical partner Galliford Try. £150m has been invested in to this project across three sites in Earlsfield (193 homes), St Bernard's School in Slough (117 homes) and Blackfriars Road on the Southbank (planning consent for 87 homes).
"This partnership has been very successful to date. Using the leverage of the Linden Homes brand, we have gained access to a great range of development sites."
Evolution is a consortium between TVH and Kier, centered upon the building of 224 affordable homes for social rent and 147 for market sale in Woking, Surrey.
Burnett: "In Woking, there is a great need for more family homes. This project was in procurement for five years, which underlines our determination to see things through. All sites come with many challenges, but we are happy to invest our time and money in to projects that create longstanding relationships."
Allnut: "This year shared ownership will become mainstream, with high demand from first time buyers. Shared ownership offers a route on to the ladder, and with the opportunity to staircase, buyers can eventually own their property if they so wish."
Burnett: "Understanding how the market is changing is key. We are not competing with housebuilders; we are working with them, and we need to protect our legacy going forward."
Allnut: "Over the course of this year and next year we could see up to 500 more affordable homes, 300 Fizzy homes and up to 100 Opal homes. Time is of the essence, we are fully focused cash buyers and we are ready to go."
You can find out more about Thames Valley Housing here.