MERGER: Network Homes and Sovereign announce plans

MERGER: Network Homes and Sovereign announce plans

Once joined, the housing associations will have a portfolio of over 82,000 homes

Sovereign Housing and Network Homes have announced their intention to merge to form one of the largest housing associations in the UK.

The new organisation will be called Sovereign Network Group and brings together Network Homes, who owns and manages over 21,000 homes predominantly in London and Hertfordshire, and Sovereign Housing with almost 60,000 homes covering Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire, the West of England and the Isle of Wight.

The target date for the completion of the merger is 1 October 2023. Subject to a formal appointment process, it is expected that Mark Washer, CEO at Sovereign will become the Chief Executive and Helen Evans, currently CEO of Network Homes, will become Deputy Chief Executive. 

Sovereign Chair Paul Massara will become Chair of Sovereign Network Group and interim Chair at Network Homes, Jon Gooding, will become Deputy Chair.

Sovereign Network Group will have an annual income of over £830m in 2024-25 and will invest £9.2bn over the next ten years, building 25,000 new homes – almost 4,000 more than in current plans, as well as regenerating estates and improving the quality of existing homes. They have also pledged to establish a new Community Foundation to invest £100m in communities over a ten-year period.

Under the proposals, the new organisation will initially take the form of a group structure with Sovereign being the parent (renamed Sovereign Network Group) and Network Homes the subsidiary (renamed Sovereign Network Homes), with a view to full amalgamation happening in April 2025.

Sovereign CEO Mark Washer said of the merger: “This is a really exciting opportunity for both Sovereign and Network Homes. Together we can build more homes and invest more in the homes we own. As we merge, we will learn from one another, bringing the best from each organisation. 

“As a housing association with over 80,000 homes and a really strong financial profile we will be able to deliver more for all of our customers.

“We want to merge because we share the same vision: providing our current and future customers with more, better quality homes in thriving communities, to offer sector-leading services, and create a real catalyst for positive change. 

“The headwinds we face in housing now – and there are more coming – make it even more urgent that we should be bold and innovative. Sovereign Network will be well-placed to embrace that change and shape the future of the sector.

“Over the last few months, as I’ve got to know Helen and her team, I can see this is really good fit – two organisations which are passionate about delivering sector-leading services in thriving communities.”

Network Homes CEO Helen Evans added: “This is the right time for this merger, and the right merger for both Network Homes and Sovereign. Together, our size and resilience as an organisation will increase our ability to invest and to build new, affordable homes.

“Our plans for a new Community Foundation, spending £100m over the next ten years will ringfence our commitment to create places and communities where people can take control and improve their lives. And our people will also benefit, with new opportunities for learning and development.

“This is an important new chapter for Network Homes and I know that it will deliver benefits to residents, our people and help us to better fulfil our mission to provide safe, secure and affordable homes for as many people as possible.”

Hampshire housing association buys shopping centre for £17m

Hampshire housing association buys shopping centre for £17m

Sovereign Housing Association has purchased the Princes Mead Shopping Centre and two adjacent retail assets in Farnborough for £17.6 million.

The 61-000-home housing association acquired the 7.77 acre site from Knight Frank Investment Management (KFIM), on behalf of Local Pensions Partnership Investments (LPPI). The deal sees both KFIM and LPPI remain involved in the development project as overage partners.

Sovereign plans to deliver over 350 new homes on the town centre site, creating a residential-led, mixed-use regeneration of the central site in the borough of Rushmoor.

The housing association says the purchase is part of their strategy to meet the growing demand for affordable housing and contribute to the regeneration of towns and high streets; delivering quality homes in well-connected communities.

The planned development forms part of wider regeneration plans for the Farnborough town centre, being brought forward by Rushmoor Borough Council and the Rushmoor Development Partnership.

Their Civic Quarter masterplan incorporates a new leisure centre, civic hub and park, 1,000 new energy efficient homes, and new restaurant, food and beverage areas.

Tom Titherington, Chief Investment & Development Officer at Sovereign Housing Association said: “We are delighted to have acquired our second shopping centre, with a view to the longer-term regeneration potential of the site.

“As our high streets evolve, it becomes increasingly important for forward-thinking housing associations such as Sovereign to take a proactive role in regenerating our town centres, supporting our customers through the delivery of affordable homes and the successful re-imagination of our high streets.”

John Styles, Partner at Knight Frank Investment Management, said: “Having worked with Rushmoor to establish support for a substantial residential-led development scheme we are delighted to have sold the site to Sovereign Housing Association.  We are confident that Sovereign will take the project forward maximising the benefits, particularly in terms of affordable housing provision for Farnborough.”