Stoke-on-Trent’s housing successes recognised in national awards

Published: Thursday, 14th February 2019

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been shortlisted for two national awards for its strategic approach towards housing development as well as its commitment to raising standards in its housing stock.

The authority is a finalist in the UK Housing Awards 2019’s Council of the Year category. Its housing repairs and maintenance company Unitas has also been recognised in the Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) category.

The awards, run by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing, showcase the very best the housing sector has to offer.

The city council has been recognised for a number of initiatives, including:

  • Its rapidly growing housing market, with £199.8m being invested overall.
  • Its commitment to building more social housing.
  • Its ambitious programme of masterplanning and regeneration, especially with the Bucknall New Road city centre housing estate – supported by institutional investor Cheyne and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
  • Its aim to provide a quality home for every stage of life, and its plans to deliver more than 4,500 new homes by 2025.
  • Its development of the Smithfield site, including a market rent build by the council’s housing company Fortior Homes – providing a key boost for local businesses and creating increased footfall in the city centre.
  • Its commitment to preventing homelessness and eradicating rough sleeping.

Unitas has been recognised for:

  • Tackling long end-to-end times on void properties, with a reduction in the number of voids from 284 to 192 (32 per cent), and a fall in the average re-let time from 48 to 25 days. This has resulted in savings in void rent loss of around £600,000 per year.
  • Supporting the local economy, with 76 per cent of all works carried out being delivered by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire-based companies.
  • Reducing the average cost of repairs per property from £1,171 to £870 in the first six months of operation.
  • Its investment in staff, with improved communication and pension options.
  • Generating a projected £5 million return to the council.

Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “It’s fantastic news to have been shortlisted for these prestigious awards, which demonstrates the widespread recognition of the work that is currently taking place within housing across the city.

“To make Stoke-on-Trent a place where people actively choose to live and work, we are looking carefully at what needs to happen in our housing and residential areas. We are keen to maximise the potential of all of our assets in order to meet housing needs and drive the city’s economic growth.

“As such, we’re investing millions of pounds in our housing stock – new and old – giving people the chance to get their first foot on the property ladder, helping maturing families to find their perfect home, and allowing our older residents to live independently for as long as possible.”

Council leader Councillor Ann James, who is a board member of Unitas, added: “When Unitas was established, our aim was to offer an improved, more flexible service for tenants and to ensure that property owned by the council is maintained to a high standard.

“We also wanted to continue our push towards making services more commercially-minded – driving efficiency and supporting the local economy.

“Housing growth is at the heart of the city’s journey to economic independence, and making sure we have the right sort of homes that are high quality and attractive is an important part of this process.”

Winners of the UK Housing Awards 2019 will be announced at a ceremony held at The Grosvenor Hotel in London on May 1.

Full details of all the finalists can be found via https://ukhousingawards.co.uk/shortlist.