The housing associations join forces to become 81,000-home HA

The proposed merger between Sovereign Housing Association and Network Homes has been approved by the boards of both social housing providers.

The two housing associations have formally agreed to form Sovereign Network Group (SNG), with the merger due to take place on 1 October 2023.

Network Homes owns and manages over 21,000 homes predominantly in London and Hertfordshire, while Sovereign have almost 60,000 homes covering Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire, the West of England and the Isle of Wight. 

Together, as SNG, they will be one of the largest housing associations in the country serving over 210,000 residents across London and the south of England. 

Sovereign chief executive, Mark Washer, will become CEO of SNG, and Network Homes chief executive, Helen Evans, will become SNG’s Deputy CEO.

Washer commented: “Bringing these two great organisations together will enable us to invest in creating more homes, and better homes for our current and future customers. Combined, we will be a leader in delivering sustainable and affordable housing, including for social rent, as well as investment in communities. 

“We are already seeing the potential for our complementary skills and experience to help us deliver better for each of our customers, and the future is hugely exciting.”

The proposed merger, which was first announced in March 2023, now has board-approval from both HAs following due diligence, tenant consultation and engagement activities with colleagues.

Helen Evans said: “I’m pleased we now have the green light to pursue this exciting new chapter for both organisations as we join together as one organisation. 

“As deputy chief executive, I will be overseeing the transition and significant work is now underway to ensure we will have the right structures, systems, and processes to deliver for customers from 1 October onwards. I’m looking forward to working with Mark, our new Executive Board and colleagues in ensuring the new organisation is a success.”

SNG plans to invest around £8.5 billion in existing and new homes over the next ten years, with an annual development programme of up to 2,500 homes a year alongside a retrofit strategy.

The new organisation will establish a new community foundation which will invest £100m over ten years to directly support residents and communities. It will also adopt Sovereign’s Homes and Place sustainability and wellbeing standard that was co-created with customers.

Network Homes (renamed Sovereign Network Homes) will initially join as a subsidiary of SNG before a transfer of engagements which is expected to take place in April 2025.