New association 'better placed' to improve services and build more homes
The Guinness Trust Buildings on Fulham Palace Road in Hammersmith
May 8, 2023
Two housing associations with properties in local area have confirmed they are planning to merge, creating a huge new association with around 70,000 homes.
Shepherd’s Bush Housing Group, or SBHG, which has its head office in Chiswick and The Guinness Partnership say they have entered partnership discussions, and hope to come together formally in autumn.
The plan is for SBHG to become a subsidiary of Guinness, while maintaining its brand and heritage across west London.
Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association was founded in 1966 by members of St Stephen's Church in Shepherd's Bush who were concerned about the poor housing conditions in the area. They were led by the church’s vicar, Reverend John Asbridge and their aim was to "acquire and administer property for letting to needy families."
The choir vestry at St Stephen’s became the Association’s first office, which was run by volunteers from the parish.
Reverend Asbridge died last year, but lived to see his creation - now split into two divisions - Shepherd’s Bush Housing Association and BE WEST, providing over 5,000 homes across nine boroughs, including Hammersmith & Fulham. Future plans include the construction of 1,200 more homes by 2030.
The 130-year-old Guinness Partnership provides homes and services for 140,000 customers in 64,000 homes across the country, including the iconic Guinness Trust Buildings in Fulham Palace Road in Hammersmith.
Last year SBHG ran into problems when the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) rated it as “non-compliant on governance matters”. The regulator said, “This means that there are issues of serious regulatory concern but that the provider is working with us to address them.”
Now SBHG says that by bringing the two organisations together it will be better placed to deliver more reliable and consistent investment in its existing homes at a greater pace, improve services to customers and develop more affordable homes for the residents of west London.
St Stephen's Church’s vicar, Reverend John Asbridge, helped set up SBHG
Martin Hurst, SBHG Chair, said, “SBHG remains a viable independent business and following our downgrade by the Regulator of Social Housing last year we have made great progress with our governance recently.
St Stephen's Church in Shepherd's Bush
“We want to build on our progress to do more for our residents by investing in their homes, communities and building much needed affordable housing, which will remain challenging if we stay independent.
“Guinness is an organisation that has a strong record of growth, regeneration and investing in the communities they operate in. This partnership will allow us to improve the communities our customers live in, ensure long term investment in our homes and provide more housing in west London.”
The Guinness Partnership meanwhile says that bringing SBHG into the Guinness family will strengthen its presence in London and deliver more opportunities for residents of both organisations.
Chris Wilson, Chair of The Guinness Partnership Board, said: “The values of Guinness and SBHG are very much aligned, with a strong social purpose at the core of both organisations. We have a strong presence in London – this partnership will provide opportunities to deliver more homes in an area where demand far outstrips supply and further improve the efficiency of our customer service.”
SBHG has written to all its customers, explaining the plans and promising to set up a customer engagement forum to allow people to share their views. You can read this letter in full here.
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