Why joint ventures work for us

Partnership working allows us to share the risks and the rewards – enabling us to deliver affordable homes in strong, supportive and vibrant communities.

Claire Higgins is Chief Executive at Cross Keys Homes

Claire Higgins is Chief Executive at Cross Keys Homes

20 April 2017

I am deeply committed to partnership working across all of Cross Key Homes activities. I truly believe that by working together with other organisations we can get so much more done than working in competition. Our partnership working takes many forms. For example, we have joined with a local charity Drinksense to fund a support worker to help those of our tenants who face alcohol and other addiction challenges. We have also worked with the Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) to successfully reduce fuel bills for over 100 of our residents facing fuel poverty, and we work with the Safer Peterborough Partnership and Peterborough City Council to employ our Hate Crime Officer, supporting victims and encouraging people to report incidents.  

Our joint venture with Kier Living to build more homes is to me, a simple and logical evolution of the partnership working we already do. We have worked successfully with Kier on a number of ventures before, most notably our award winning Kingfisher Court extra care scheme. And so we already have a great working relationship. This joint venture takes that relationship to a whole new level.

We want to build as many homes as possible. No, I’ll rephrase that. We have to build as many homes as possible. Despite everything, we are still facing a housing crisis, with a very real shortage of good quality housing. Those homes that are available are often far out of the financial reach of the people who need them most - house prices in our own home town of Peterborough are seven times the average salary, and this is one of the cheapest places to buy in the Eastern region.

However, as a housing association, we have a very real responsibility to the tenants we already house. That means we have to balance the risks we take very, very carefully. We cannot do anything to jeopardise the security of the 11,000 plus families we already house.

And so the joint venture allows us to share the risks as well as the rewards.

Land in Peterborough and the surrounding area is in short supply and competition for available land is fierce. Kier is able to help us to access land that would be out of our reach on our own. They will be bringing 17 development sites to this venture which we would not have been able to access without them. And that is just for starters! Both Cross Keys Homes and Kier have great ambitions to secure more land to include in the joint venture in the coming years.

Meanwhile, we will be able to contribute our skills and knowledge of building real communities that people are proud to call home. Neighbourhoods with a real buzz about them. Like residents in Westwood and Ravensthorpe who have pulled together, with our support, to access Big Lottery funding to build a community café and garden. We know that we can replicate these areas in the new developments. We have the knowledge and experience of successfully integrating different tenure types to live together, plus we have support available for those who are struggling. We not only give people a home, we also support them into work, help them access the support agencies they may need and are there for them when times get tough.

So, joint ventures to me are a win win. We get access to great developments and to work with great quality housebuilders with strong ethics. The developers get that extra edge in a competitive market and are able to tap into our skills, experience, local knowledge and connections. We get to share in the risks, but also the rewards, which by working together are greater than working alone. But most importantly people get homes. Good quality and affordable homes, in strong, supportive and vibrant communities. In fact it’s win, win, win!

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