Go to homepage
Login to MyPlace

Great Homes

When it comes to Great Homes, one of the key benefits of the merger between Great Places and Equity is the business growth it is providing. Being a bigger and stronger organisation means we can build and manage more houses to tackle the crisis, and we are already seeing this in action.

Our ambition is to own or manage 30,000 homes by 2028 and over the past 12 months, despite the ever-challenging external environment and the fallout from the Covid pandemic, we’ve continued to make great inroads towards this bold target.

Our 2021-22 stats are below.

Terra Nova

Terra Nova, our in-house construction company, launched last year and has made positive progress ever since.

Highlights of its first year include successfully completing its first project – a £2.3million “˜age friendly’ development for the over-55s at Horrace Street, in Halliwell, Bolton.

The development involved working closely with Bolton Council to address the need for this specific type of affordable housing in the borough.  Aimed at customers who were looking to downsize, the apartments, available for affordable rent, include a range of amenities including wet rooms, hidden adaptations by Invisible Creations and a communal garden.

Work is also progressing with Terra Nova’s second and third sites in Lancaster, with an additional 163 affordable new homes planned across Manchester, Bury and Bolton.

Click here to find out more about Terra Nova.

Cube – A year of the growth

It’s been another great year of growth for Cube Homes as we continue to establish ourselves in a very competitive market place.

Cube delivers high quality, well designed homes that offer customers something a little different.

Cube currently has a secured pipeline of 89 plots, capable of delivering in excess of £32m of sales income.

Cube’s impressive year is documented in the infographic below.


Plumlife – The winds of change

Success within Sales

It’s been another fantastic year for Plumlife Sales as they have continued to help people onto the property ladder while undergoing significant changes including an exciting re-brand, the creation of a Marketing and Brand team and formation of the new Sales Services team.

In the last financial year, Plumlife Sales have achieved the following:

  • 228 Shared Ownership homes have been sold, generating income of £22,314,406;
  • 28 market sales homes were sold on behalf of Cube, generating income of £8,126,189;
  • Customer satisfaction averaged 95%;
  • 138 staircasing and Right to Acquire/Buy completions were carried out by the Sales Services team;
  • Staircasing was a particularly successful area, generating income of £7.819m against a forecast of £6.490m.


Shared expertise and a new sense of scale

The merger presented the new organisation with a fantastic and unique opportunity for us to create something different and special in the shared ownership and leasehold markets. Our new business is now one of the largest providers of leasehold and shared ownership services in the North. This expertise gives us a real opportunity to maximise economies of scale and create something new within sales and property management.

As well as preparing for the new shared ownership product, significant planning and investment has gone into ensuring that our Plumlife Teams were set up in the best way to deliver excellent services to our customers within our new integrated offer. We called this infrastructure our Centre of Excellence; click below to learn more about this important work.


Plumlife Management: transformational change

Before the merger, our Plumlife Team managed around 4,000 properties across the North of England. In the 12 months covering this reporting period there has been a big focus on preparing for the significant growth created as a result of the partnership, as this total grew to over 6,000 properties on 1 April 2022.

The majority of the work for the team in the latter part of the 2021-22 financial year was integration related, as we prepared to roll out a new structure, in consultation with colleagues, alongside new ways of working and process mapped lots of essential functions in order to support the build of the new housing management system.

The business has invested heavily in this area and carried out a significant recruitment drive to fill these roles, which offered career development for existing colleagues and opportunities for talented new recruits to join the new Plumlife teams.

In addition to the integration work, Plumlife Management took on the management of four new sites on behalf of Sheffield Housing Company, which brought over 400 new customers. They also worked really hard on evolving the property management service offer at some of our large complex apartment developments such as Park Hill, which resulted in improved levels of customer satisfaction.

A new brand for Plumlife

To reflect these exciting changes and progression we have updated the Plumlife Homes brand and created new sub brands to sit within it, including Plumlife Sales, Plumlife Move and Plumlife Property Management.

Check out the video below to learn more about these exciting developments.


Our Carbon Management Strategy

In 2021 Great Places put in place a Carbon Management Strategy coving our objectives for decarbonising our homes and reducing the carbon footprint of our wider business activities. The strategy provides the foundation for collaborative working across the organisation to establish carbon reduction culture into all of our activities, such as increasing insulation in our homes, exploring our longer term options around heating our homes and adopting the Future Homes Standard for new-build. Hosting the Off-Site Homes Alliance, we have ensured that the base specification of factory-built homes will be Future Homes Standard, moving quickly to zero carbon ready.

Assets & Investment: 2021/22 headline figures

  • Total spend on major repairs was more than £19.5million;
  • We carried out 3,260 component replacements to over 2,500 of our customers’ homes;
  • Over 1000 new kitchens and bathrooms were installed;
  • More than 700 new boilers and heating systems were fitted.

Asset Management Strategy

We are making good progress against our Asset Management Strategy 2021-2026, and have now delivered on all the major objectives for Year 1.  These included:

  • A new Assets structure to help improve and professionalise our service to external and internal customers;
  • Improved Asset Management governance, including a new cross-team Asset Management Steering Group and greater visibility for colleagues of our priority investment projects;
  • Completion of twelve in-depth surveys of buildings on our priority Building Safety list, as well as over £2.5M of works to improve fire safety and building safety across our portfolio;
  • Over 3,000 stock condition surveys completed as we move to a five-year cycle of surveying all our assets;
  • A new Divestment Strategy to inform our approach to targeted acquisitions and disposals of assets;
  • Significant progress on improving our energy data as we move to having fully up-to-date records for all our assets on a new dedicated software system that will enable us to plan for major carbon improvement works starting from 2023/24.

Building safety

Aware of the need to respond to the ever-changing external environment we operate in, we also have plans in place to address the requirements of the Social Housing White Paper, “The Charter for Social Housing Residents”, and new Building Safety Legislation.

Customers are at the heart of everything we do and their safety is paramount. Within our corporate plan we commit to ensuring that our customers can be confident their homes are safe.

Throughout 2021-22 we’ve continued to assess our buildings and carry out works, in line with evolving building safety legislation. Recent legislation defines properties that would be considered a higher risk and, where we’ve identified these within our property portfolio, we have committed to undertake intrusive surveys and complete all required remedial works as soon as possible after inspection.

We continue to invest in building safety both in improvements and in routine testing and inspection programmes.

From April 2021 to March 2022 our 860 blocks of flats were inspected a number of times.

We also carried out invasive surveys to another twelve of our higher-risk buildings and where recommendations for improvements were made we set up programmes to deliver.

Our main programmes included:

  • Fire door replacement, the flat entrance door contains a fire in its place of origin, or keeps it out and provides time for rescue of trapped customers;
  • Structural works to fire compartments and fire stopping;
  • Upgrades to electrical installations, and communal alarm systems;
  • Upgrades to internal alarms within apartments.

We are shortly to start a fire door inspection regime, to inspect all flat entrance doors and fire doors to high-rise blocks on a three-month cycle. This will require access into apartments and will also allow us to review the alarms within the flat.

Breathing new life into Bowland

Our flagship improvement work on Bowland House, close to Blackburn town centre, completed in March 2022.

The £3.9 million renovation of the 14-storey high-rise that has dominated the skyline since the mid-1960s has enhanced the building’s safety and significantly updated customers’ homes, breathing new life into them and making them more energy efficient in the process.

The year-long project was carried out in collaboration with partners including Casey Construction and Blackburn with Darwen Council, and the works include:

  • Improving the insulation of the external walls;
  • The installation of a sprinkler system to all flats and communal areas and the installation of an innovative evacuation system, which will allow the Fire and Rescue Service to evacuate a single floor or any multiples of floors;
  • Putting in new hot water cylinders, electric showers and communal lighting systems;
  • Replacing the existing problematic roof coverings with new;
  • Installing new floor coverings and the redecoration of communal areas;
  • 5G broadband as part of a pilot project that will provide customers free Wi-Fi services.

Alongside the improvement works, the project team has also enlisted the help of Blackburn College students and customers to add some artistic flair by creating murals for each floor depicting landmarks and images associated with the town.

The video below explains more about this pioneering project.


Investing in the future

From October 2021 to March 2022 our Investment Team joined forces with Blackburn College students to give 15 young apprentices on its construction course the chance of valuable work experience needed to complete their college-based apprenticeship.

Working with contractors John Southworth, the young people supported with kitchen and bathroom upgrade works taking place in the local area, getting the vital experience needed for getting that all-important first job.

The feedback from the College was extremely positive, Nadine Ray, the College’s Workplace Coordinator, explained: “This project gave our students an opportunity to work on a real building site and increase their knowledge and skills in a real work environment.”

Kathy Howard, the Investment Team’s Customer Liaison Officer added: “This gave the apprentices the chance to gain valuable experience in the workplace needed to complete their apprenticeship training. It was a great project to be involved with and highlighted Great Places’ ongoing commitment to investing in the skills of our future workforce.”


Repairs and Facilities Management: headline Repairs figures


  • In 2021/22, we completed 38,861 responsive repairs
  • Of the above, 9,526 were emergencies
  • Our first-time-fix rate was 85%
  • We completed nearly 900 empty property refurbishments
  • Customer satisfaction was at 9 out 10 for repair jobs completed


A more robust infrastructure

The structure of our Repairs Service has been significantly enhanced as part of our integration programme work to allow us to become One Business.

Significant investment has been made within the Repairs Team to ensure that we are set up in the best way to deliver excellent services to our customers.

New senior roles and additional operational management roles have been created to sit in a more robust management structure. This will help customers and colleagues to provide capacity and support for effective property management.


Our improved digital repairs offer

The launch of our Dynamic Resourcing Scheduler in May 2021 has transformed how we manage and schedule repairs appointments and maximise the efficiency and effectiveness of the team.

This enhanced offer will be progressed even further when customers can book and schedule their own repairs following the launch of the new customer app and updated portal later in 2022.

Equally, our new housing management system, Aareon, is improving efficiency for colleagues, enabling operatives to book follow-on works from customers’ homes and much more.

Damp and mould campaign

Last year, we launched a campaign to help customers battle damp and mould via our Detective Damp Guide, providing useful advice and support to help tackle the potential problem of damp and mould in homes.

The campaign has been a real success and we’re pleased we’ve been able to provide a number of customers with both technical solutions and general support on addressing this issue.

By April 2022 we had completed around 250 damp inspections, with our specially trained teams visiting customers across all our regions to implement a number of different solutions and supporting customers to help eradicate signs of mould and condensation.

Click here to view Detective Damp’s guide

A close-up on our Caretaking Service

Following the merger we reviewed our Caretaking service and our customer scrutiny group, Insight, carried out a review from August to November 2021. In February 2022 they reported their findings to Board, and their six main recommendations around improvement were all agreed. These were around how we capture customers’ views about the service; how we share information with them and some of the ways they can feedback on their experiences with us.

Our headline stats on Caretaking Services from 2021-22 are below.

* We have 18 caretakers across Great Places, and four supervisors;
* 72% of our stock is serviced by our in-house team, across 141 blocks;
* The remaining 28% is delivered by external contractors;
* 101 shared spaces in the former Equity Region receive services from external contractors.

Our new in-house Grounds Maintenance Team

As well as building thousands of new homes, we also work hard to improve and maintain our existing stock, never forgetting that our properties are our customers’ homes and places they can be proud of.

Following consultation with customers and listening to their feedback, in November 2021 we took the decision to bring our grounds maintenance services in-house, instead of having them delivered by a separate organisation.

As part of this process we welcomed 24 new colleagues to Great Places, some of whom were previously employed by our former grounds maintenance contractor that were TUPE’d into the organisation, as well as some new recruits.

It’s early days and customers and colleagues will see the benefits of having an in-house team once it has fully embedded, but an early success story has been seen at Pullman Close, a scheme for over 55s in Levenshulme.