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Housing groups merge to meet housing demand

Worcester Editorial 10th Apr, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

TWO of the biggest property developers in Worcestershire have joined forces in an ambitious bid to build thousands of new homes across the county.

Worcester Community Housing and Malvern-based Festival Housing have merged to form a new housing group, called Fortis Living.

Up to 50 jobs will be lost over the next three years as the two companies, which employee a combined total of more than 700 workers, look to share services.

But Guy Weston, chief executive at Fortis Living, said he believed the move, which was given the green light by the Homes and Communities Agency, would put them in a stronger position to respond to the country’s need for new homes.

A recent examination of the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) found an extra 5,000 homes would need to be built on top of the 23,200, which have already been earmarked, by 2030.

And Mr Weston said Fortis Live, which owns more than 14,000 homes in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, are aiming to create 6,000 new properties within the next ten years.

“We recognise there is a massive need for housing, so we felt if we came together we would increase our financial strength and capacity to actually be able to invest more and build more homes,” he said.

“We are currently building in the region of 300 to 350 homes a year, but our plans are to increase that to at least 500 homes a year.

“We are talking about generating over £30 million in efficiency savings over a ten-year period and 80 per cent of that will be invested into building new homes with the remainder into improving services for our existing customers.”

The two company’s headquarters at Progress House in Worcester and at Festival House in Malvern will remain, but Mr Weston refused to rule out potential redundancies.

“We do project that we will need a reduction of between 45 and 50 posts over a three-year period,” he added. “We would hope to avoid redundancies where we can and we will be able to make the most of natural turnover and retirements in that period.

“But by coming together we will also be able to do more repair work in-house which will save us money and we will hopefully be able to generate opportunities  for more apprenticeships.”

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