2017 is going to be a significant year for Wokingham Housing Limited (WHL) which was set up in 2011 to build high quality homes for local people while generating an ongoing income stream for us.
WHL will positively influence the Borough and enhance local communities through building the right type of housing, in the right locations to meet the rising demand for all types of housing.
This summer and autumn will see the completion of WHL's flagship developments, Phoenix Avenue and Fosters Independent Living Scheme.
Phoenix Avenue, a £13million development built near the centre of Wokingham, will consist of 68 new homes for social and affordable rent. The scheme is well advanced and WHL's contractor, Hill Partnerships, is in full swing completing the development.
In Woodley, our £6.5million Fosters Independent Living Scheme is progressing well. The external structure is largely completed and internal works are gearing up to finish well-designed homes for older people, unable to continue to live easily in their current homes. The building will contain 34, one-bedroom, self-contained apartments with communal lounges, a café and on-site support and care.
This project benefits from £1.5million of government subsidy as well as the Council providing the land free to ensure the rents are affordable for the residents who will move in.
As well as these two major schemes, WHL will deliver a number of smaller projects on Council-owned land that can be better used across the Borough. In total these 45 homes on 12 sites, will be largely completed by April next year. Thereafter we intend to have an ongoing supply of 50 to 70 new homes every year.
Our programme is made up of supported housing for vulnerable people, social and affordable rented and shared ownership (part-buy/ part-rent) properties, as well as homes for intermediate rent (around 80 per cent of market rent) and private sale.
WHL's vision ensures this programme of development offers a mix of homes that enable people on different incomes to access mainly subsidised housing at prices they can afford.
In future, WHL intends to develop purpose built private rented housing that will be owned and managed by a trusted, ethical landlord.
In developing new homes, WHL has established a set of values around which to operate and help build a reputation to be proud of. It aims to be reputable; to build high quality homes and services; to be expert in designing and building homes; to act commercially using its resources wisely to create fair profit margins; and to ensure it is progressive in driving positive change in the building and management of housing.
In the last two years work has focused on achieving planning permissions and starting to build, however this forms only one piece of the jigsaw. The other key element in achieving WHLs objectives is getting the housing management arrangements right. Building a reputation is essential and achieved through effective and efficient management and maintenance of its homes for our residents and the organisation.
Many of the homes WHL builds will be purchased by other wholly-owned Council housing companies, like Loddon Homes, a Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) registered Housing Association. Ensuring the management and maintenance arrangements are sound and well considered, has involved putting in place processes and procedures that cover all areas of managing and maintaining homes.
To support this we are working on having a fully digital service that enables tenants to make payments, book gas servicing and report repairs all through smart phones or online, as you would expect from a 21st Century landlord.
Deliberately small organisations, WHL and Loddon Homes work closely in partnership with others who are experts in their fields, ranging from architects who design our homes to the contractors building them and the agents managing them.
All our partners are carefully selected, considering reputational merits and values that these organisations operate within. We are fortunate that two of our partners form part of the Council.
Our housing service, which manages more than 2,600 Council homes, provides management and maintenance services and Optalis, an award winning care provider based in the heart of Wokingham, is delivering the care packages where relevant in WHL schemes and will be the principle care provider at Fosters Independent Living Scheme.
You can find out more by visiting the WHL website.