Longhurst Group: freedom to explore new opportunities – Case study

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The grant funding provided by the partnership has enabled the organisation to plan for the future with greater certainty.

In its first year as a strategic partner, the group, which owns and manages more than 23,000 homes across the Midlands and East of England, invested £81million to deliver 568 new homes and started work on a further 432.
Rob Griffiths, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer, said: “The strategic partnership has enabled us to plan our programme with greater certainty over a longer period.

“It has given us more freedom to work up new land-led opportunities for affordable homes, safe in the knowledge that the grant funding is in place. This is particularly important for more complex land-led schemes that take some time to get through planning and ultimately through to delivery.

“Becoming a strategic partner helped to shift our ambitions and increase our focus on land-led developments. While section 106 opportunities will still form part of our programme, we will now have a greater focus on our own, land-led schemes.”

The Group’s first scheme to be launched under the partnership is a development of more than 100 new affordable homes in Boston, Lincolnshire. Scheduled for completion in 2022, Heron Park will comprise 68 homes for Social Rent, with 20 one-bedroom houses, 20 two-bedroom properties and 28 three-bedroom homes.

A further 35 homes will be made available for Shared Ownership, with 13 two-bedroom houses and 22 three-bed properties.

Reflecting on the benefits offered by the partnership, Rob added: “It’s difficult to single out which benefits have had the biggest impact, but if I had to pick, I’d say the certainty it provides.

“Being a strategic partner has given us the freedom to progress new opportunities with the certainty of grant funding without having to get individual schemes approved.

“We’re now able to plan our future private financing requirements with the same degree of security over a longer period than we’ve had under previous grant regimes.

“Put simply, it means we can look to the future and what we plan to deliver with more confidence.”

On the joint partnership with NCHA, Rob said, “Our partnership with NCHA was key in enabling us to become a strategic partner. By combining our bid, we were able to scale up our delivery programme to the level needed while also managing the associated risk around a programme of this size.

“We’ve also been able to bring in delivery partners from across the Blue Skies Consortium – which we jointly lead with NCHA – sharing resources and expertise across our teams.”

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