Knightstone housing completes first stock swap

Nick Horne

Nick Horne

Two of the South West’s major housing providers have completed the swap of over 1,400 homes in Somerset and Wiltshire – one of the largest ever stock swaps in the social housing sector.

In an effort to deliver a more efficient local service to residents, the move has resulted in Knightstone Housing Association taking ownership and management of 677 homes in Somerset with Sovereign Housing Association taking ownership of 758 homes in Swindon and Wiltshire where it already has a significant number of homes and a very active development programme.

Confirmation of the stock swap follows a detailed six-week consultation with the residents affected by the transfer.

For Knightstone Housing this move is an important part of its ‘Take on the Future’ transformation plan which includes concentrating its services across nine local authorities.

Residents whose homes have been transferred will now benefit from closer local management.

Nick Horne, chief executive of Knightstone Housing said: “These home swaps are part of a package of bold changes that will transform what we do, how we do it and where we do it.

“We’re very pleased to have completed this first stock swap with Sovereign with both negotiations and the transfer having gone smoothly. Knightstone and Sovereign share a passion for providing excellent customer service and we have assured residents in both areas that this will continue.

“Part of our plan is to invest more in supporting neighbourhoods so they are places people continue to want to live and this first stock swap will help us achieve just that.”

Prior to this first stock swap, Knightstone Housing Association owned and managed 11,000 homes across 37 local authorities. Within three years the association expects to be managing over 10,000 homes in the nine West of England and Somerset local authority areas.

Heather Bowman, Sovereign’s Housing and Communities Director said: “Having consulted residents in Wiltshire and Somerset, we are very pleased that they have understood the rationale for this move. They have welcomed the fact that it will result in a more responsive and cost-effective local service for customers.

“This is one of the largest ever stock swaps in our sector, and it makes sense in the current economic climate. It allows both businesses to consolidate in areas where they already have a significant presence and deliver efficiencies, which will enable us to re-invest in services and provide more high-quality affordable homes.”

Knightstone is also putting in place plans to build on its position as a major developer of new affordable homes for rent and sale and aims to develop 1500 new homes in Somerset and the West of England in the next five years.

Part of the associations restructuring plans also includes the building of a new centralised head office in Weston-super-Mare to replace its six existing offices.

Nick added: “By responding proactively to customer priorities, government changes to housing policy, rents, tenures and welfare benefits and the current economic climate, we’re making sure we’re doing the right thing for our business, residents, staff and partners in the years ahead.”