Greater Manchester: housing joint venture

The National Housing Federation (NHF), The Local Government Association (LGA) and PlaceShapers are working together to support our members to form partnerships where this can benefit all parties. This case study is one of a series from across the country to share best practice and information about the types of partnership that can work.

Joint venture partners

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP).

GMHP has around 28 members, including a range of size organisations, stock transfer housing associations, traditional housing associations and ALMOs. The joint venture is being pursued by a group of 10 members from GHMP

How many and what sort of homes are being delivered?

GMHP has built more than 8,000 new homes in the last five years and has an ambition to deliver 16,000 over the next five. Development figures for 2018/19 as a partnership have been 2841 planning consents, 2145 starts on site and 1920 completions. It is hoped that the joint venture will contribute 500 homes a year to this total.

How did the partnership get started?

GMHP started through a conversation between the Chief Executive at one of the providers, Bolton at Home and the Director of Housing at Manchester. Anticipating what may come in devolution terms they felt that it would be good to try and get a Housing Provider Group together for Greater Manchester. The success of this partnership laid the ground work for the joint venture organisation which has now emerged,

Project summary

Established as a group in 2010, GMHP are substantial investors in the Greater Manchester community. In recent years members of the group have been delivering around 40% of new homes across Greater Manchester. GMPH jointly commission work with the Mayor and GMCA, and have representation on all the relevant Boards within the Combined Authority. In addition to development the partnership operates across a full range of themes including, social investment, access to housing, homelessness, health and social care and others. Each topic has a lead CEO. There are terms of reference and an annual fee that allow the partnership to do their work, and pay for our research and staff time (the partnership has a post embedded in the GMCA).

The JV will act as an LLP with a £3m investment from each housing association as well as a £2m contribution from GMCA in return for a 20% stake in the joint venture. The associations will own the remaining 80%. The partnership will be a commercial developer, buying land and securing planning permission to build and sell land on the open market. Affordable housing built through s106 will be handed over to registered providers. Any profits will be reinvested or distributed among the housing associations. The JV is working on its first 2 sites now.

What have been the greatest benefits and what challenges have you experienced along the way?

None of the joint work would have been possible without building trust between both parties. The partnership has required people to focus on the collective good, rather than just their narrow organisational interest, and most importantly focus on giving communities a stake in devolution.

The GMHP benefitted from having a full GM coverage, and a willingness to invest resources in assisting the GMCA meet its objectives. The housing associations had to be honest, understand politics of the area, negotiate and be prepared to compromise.

What would be your message to other local authorities and housing associations looking to do something similar?

Look for what needs doing, look for things you do that are common, and don’t necessarily start with development. Build trust and focus on some easy wins to build that trust. Be inclusive and make sure you are part of solving the problems not just trying to benefit your business plan.