Housing association plans property swap

August 26, 2011

Knightstone Housing Association, the West of England housing provider with hundreds of homes in the Bristol area, is in detailed negotiations that could result in it taking over nearly 641 properties in Somerset.

Knightstone, based in Worle, Weston-super-Mare and already one of the largest registered social landlords in the county, plans to swap its 719 homes in Swindon and Wiltshire for  641 homes in Somerset owned by Sovereign South+West.

The two say the deal will give their residents a more locally-based and efficient service, including an improved repairs and maintenance service.

Knightstone and Sovereign are formally consulting residents affected by the potential transfer in an exercise expected to end in mid-November. Residents’ views will be a key consideration before a final decision is made, Sovereign and Knightstone said.

Knightstone chief executive Nick Horne said the move is part of its plan to concentrate its services across nine local authorities.

“These planned property swaps are part of a package of bold changes that will transform what we do, how we do it and where we do it,” he said.

“The government changes to housing policy, rents, tenures and welfare benefits as well as the current economic climate, mean major challenges for us, our residents and partners in the years ahead.

“We’re very pleased to be progressing these negotiations with Sovereign. We’re both committed to providing an excellent service to our customers and through our local presence in each area we can assure residents from both organisations that they’ll continue to receive great service.

“Our goal is to make a real difference in our communities and invest more in supporting neighbourhoods so they are places where people continue to want to live. This first stock swap will help us achieve just that.”

Heather Bowman, managing director of Newbury-based Sovereign, added: “Knightstone has a strong presence in Somerset, and we are confident that the proposed transfer to Knightstone will lead to a more responsive service.

“Similarly, we can assure Knightstone residents in Swindon and Wiltshire that they will receive a quicker and more local service because we are more embedded in the community here.

“The proposed stock swap and more local service it provides will result in efficiencies for both businesses, which will mean reinvestment in services and providing more high-quality affordable homes.”

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