Great Homes – maximising investment in safe, sustainable homes


We are proud to be one of the leading developing housing associations in the North. Our aim is to maximise our investments in affordable, high quality and sustainable homes, ensuring they meet the needs of customers and enhance local communities.

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affhouse

Despite the challenges of the past year, our Affordable Development Team has remained focused on supporting Great Places' growth plans in providing much needed affordable homes to help tackle the ongoing housing crisis.

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Plumlife Sales

Despite the impact of the pandemic, Plumlife continued to perform well, with 139 property transactions including:

  • 79 shared ownership sales generating a sales income of £6.5M;
  • 33 market sale homes for Cube, generating an income of £6.9M;
  • 27 shared ownership sales on behalf of other clients.

In addition, Plumlife generated a turnover of £6.5M a surplus of £896k and maintained a high level of customer satisfaction at 9.9 out of 10.

Looking forward, Great Places is set to deliver approximately 300 new homes for shared ownership across 25 sites in Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Cheshire. This comes at a time of change as we plan for and adapt to the new Shared Ownership model lease, which will allow greater flexibility and accessibility for prospective shared owners.

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Plumlife Management

Plumlife Management had a successful year during which has seen additional PRS/Rent to Buy lettings and property management contracts delivering services to developers and registered providers across a range of high profile, complex developments in addition to managing our own properties.

Highlights include delivering services in the estate management of New Islington Marina during a period of significant residential development in the area and a higher volume of clients making use of the facilities.  We have also brought into management additional developments managed on behalf of Sheffield Housing Company.

A new contract was also secured for the lettings and management service at Aura, a 42 unit market rent scheme, managed on behalf of Geko Homes.

We currently manage:

  • 1870 leasehold;
  • 480 shared ownership;
  • 116 market rent;
  • 61 Rent to Homebuy;
  • 101 general needs properties.

Our arrears remain at a low level of 2.89% (£232k). 

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Centre of Excellence

Following our merger with Equity we now have nearly 5000 leasehold, shared ownership and market-rented properties in management. This makes us one of the biggest providers in the North of England. Coupled with our development ambitions, this could grow by nearly 4000 shared ownership properties by 2030, without accounting for any growth through other new business.

To recognise this exciting opportunity we are creating a Shared Ownership and Leasehold Centre of Excellence, which will launch in 2022. 

To hear more about Plumlife and our ambitions for a Centre of Excellence watch our video below:

cube

A commercial subsidiary of Great Places with a profit-for-purpose ethos, Cube Homes develops new homes for market sale and market rent. In addition, it also provides private sector tenancy management, block management and estate management for third-party clients. Maintaining development momentum is critical in ensuring Cube Homes can continue to support the wider organisation through continued Gift Aid payments.

Cube Homes’ key achievements during 2020/2021 include:

  • 44 homes sold;
  • a turnover of £13.7M;
  • profit before tax of £2.5M (of which £1.1M was Gift Aided to Great Places Housing Association);
  • investment in the delivery of additional new homes for market sale in the South Yorkshire region through Forge New Homes and across Great Manchester through Hive Homes;
  • commencement of work on site at our new flagship development of 65 family homes at Water Mill Gardens, Prestwich. This is the market sale element of a mixed-tenure development by Great Places bringing 115 much-needed new homes to Bury;
  • commencement of a new prestigious development of 14 homes at Holcombe View, Whitefield www.holcombeview.co.uk;
  • the completion and sale of new homes at Foxwood, Salford; Fairways View, Prestwich; and The Curve, Levenshulme.

Terra Nova

Launched during the pandemic in January 2021, Terra Nova, our aspirational in-house construction company, has already established its new team and is progressing work on its first site of 18 new homes at Horrace Street in Bolton. 

Terra Nova’s exciting development pipeline includes 170 new homes across sites in Lancaster, Manchester, Rochdale, Bury and Bolton.

Through its work Terra Nova supports social value projects across communities, including securing labouring work for a Great Places’ customer; and the set-up of a community library and vegetable patch.

To hear more about the creation of Terra Nova please watch the video below:

Through our Investment programme, we have delivered just over £18M of improvements to over 2200 homes. These included nearly 1000 kitchens and bathrooms, over 800 windows and doors and over 650 boilers and heating systems.

Investing in our homes

Bowland House

We commenced work on our £3.9M flagship project to transform Bowland House, a landmark 1960s tower block in Blackburn town centre. The project will see the whole of the external fabric refurbished, including new windows with enclosed winter garden balconies, and insulation and cladding, which will bring apartments up to modern energy efficiency standards.

It will also include substantial upgrades to communal areas of the building to ensure that all apartments meet the latest fire and building safety standards, and will have the latest broadband capability installed to promote digital inclusion to all our customers.

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Beswick Cooperative Building

We completed the final phase of improvements to this historic Grade-2 listed building in our Northmoor anchor neighbourhood. We have invested over £650k to improve the roof, windows, external decorative stone and brickwork, ensuring every detail met listed building requirements. Additionally, the three commercial units were fully-refurbished and have been offered back as a mixture of commercial and community investment opportunities.

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Asset Management Strategy

We have launched our new Asset Management Strategy 2021-2026.  In response to regulatory standards and new proposed legislation for building safety, we have also agreed our asset management priorities for the next three years, to ensure that:

  • all our homes and buildings are safe for customers to live in;
  • we listen closely to the customer voice and consider their communities as well as the homes they live in when we make investment decisions;
  • our assets meet all regulatory standards;
  • we are striving for all our homes to meet an EPC rating of C or above by 2028;
  • our systems and data are in the highest order to support the delivery of our asset management objectives.


Stretford Road Retro-fit Project
Supporting the ambitious targets in our Carbon Management Strategy, we have carried out a retro-fit project to 28 of our homes at Stretford Road, Old Trafford.  The aim of the project was to show improvements in energy performance after the installation of monitoring devices in the properties. As well as reducing carbon emissions, the results showed that the energy efficiency of the homes which had electric heating installed, improved by an average of 31 per cent, reducing annual heating bills by a projected £411.

To read more about how our customers have benefitted from the retrofit project at Stretford Road click HERE

To read our Carbon Management Strategy please click HERE


carbon management strategy

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We have invested £3M to ensure our apartment blocks adhere to new legislation and building regulations. We have prioritised safety checks and are correcting faults, replacing materials with higher performing products and improving fire safety.

This has included: 

  • carrying out in-depth surveys of apartment blocks and high-rise properties occupied by customers with mobility needs to check construction and address any weaknesses;
  • construction surveys of external cladding and walls to understand fire retardance levels;
  • improvements to fire detection and monitoring to speed up the process of alerting the fire service, in the event of a fire;
  • improvements to fire detection within apartments;
  • electrical upgrades to reduce the chance of a fire starting.

Our in-house repairs service has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. In line with government guidance, we adapted and during the first lockdown, we had to reduce the services we provided to customers.

Our operatives continued to provide emergency repairs, health and safety-related checks and services across our many homes and schemes.

Following the easing of lockdown measures in June 2020, our repairs service safely resumed routine repairs, resolving a substantial backlog of non-emergency repairs.

Facilities team and van

The efforts of our repairs teams during this time were recognised in our customer satisfaction score of 9.2 out of 10 for repairs.

Throughout the year, our repairs and facilities teams also:

  • won a national Chartered Institute of Housing award for Repairs and Maintenance Team of The Year;
  • launched a new training pathway for operatives wanting to take the next level in their careers to working supervisors;
  • improved our digital experience for both customers and colleagues;
  • developed new skills and learning opportunities to help diversify the nature of works we could undertake;
  • increased major external works and undertook larger in-house works;
  • increased team capacity to ensure efficient completion of the backlog of repairs, creating more roles and opportunities across all regions;
  • successfully rolled-out an in-house Grounds Maintenance Pilot across two areas, focusing on attention to detail to yield better results. Our customer satisfaction rating for the GM South region scheme has increased from 5.37 (November 2018) to 7.75 (January 2021).   

Delivering repairs through the pandemic: the stats



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distribution centre

Our Distribution Centre continues to receive plaudits and repeat business from customers and stakeholders.

The success of the Centre underpinned our response to the Covid pandemic, supporting frontline colleagues and partner organisations with critical PPE equipment to help them to continue delivering services safely. The Centre is seeing strong business growth and has achieved over £50k of additional revenue outside of the contract we have with Trafford Housing Trust.

Other pages in Annual Report 2021