Page 1

50 Years of Derwent Living 1964 - 2014

1960s 1970s

1980s

FRONT COVER

2000s 2010s

WT E NT DE RDWEERN

housing housing


Published by Derwent Living to commemorate fifty years of delivering affordable homes. Derwent Living is a trading name of Derwent Housing Association Ltd. Copyright 2014 Derwent Living. All rights reserved. Derwent Living No.1 Centro Place Pride Park Derby DE24 8RF www.derwentliving.com www.derwentlivingat50.com www.facebook.com/derwentliving www.twitter.com/derwentliving #derwentlivingat50 Written by Cartwright Communications, Steve Atkin, Richard Goodwin, Michael Futers, Tom Hill and Kathryn Shaw. Foreword by Ken Loach. Design by Rizk McCay/Steve Atkin. Research by Steve Atkin, Michael Futers, Richard Goodwin, Tom Hill and Kathryn Shaw.


50 Years of Derwent Living 1964 - 2014


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

1960s 1970s

1980s

2000s

2010s

14 A time for change 22 Building on foundations 30 Finding a new focus 38 Time to innovate 46 Adapting to a changing world 62 Now & next 6


Foreword You meet interesting people at football matches. Peter McCormack and I are fellow sufferers on the terraces of a lower league club and met in a campaign to save the stadium, a story familiar to fans everywhere. Since then we have spoken from time to time about our different jobs. A little while ago I came to see some new houses that Derwent had built. My involvement in housing and homelessness began with a film made nearly fifty years ago, so I am always a ready listener to Peter’s reports from the frontline. Times change. It was once considered a collective responsibility to make sure there were houses for all, at a price or rent that the ordinary family could afford. Nye Bevan, the Housing Minister in the 1945 Labour Government, set about the task of restoring Britain’s housing stock. He attacked the policy ‘where well-to-do people can afford to build luxury houses and poor people go without homes’. Does that ring a few bells for us today? Building workers and architects were employed directly by local authorities. Standards were high. Bevan astonished his civil servants by demanding the very best for working class families. Houses were built to high specifications, with gardens and even downstairs lavatories so that the youngsters didn’t walk mud up the stairs. The principle was that we should use our collective resources to ensure that all were well-housed. It was essential for a dignified and secure life. Council housing was to be not the last resort for the poor but to provide good homes for the many. That idea was gradually eroded and finally shattered when council houses were sold without using the

money to build more. The market would provide, we were told. But of course it didn’t. There are decaying houses where there is no work and homelessness and overcrowding where there are jobs, albeit casual, low-paid ones. Fifty years ago families were split up because they had nowhere to live. If we were shocked then we should be as appalled now: over fifty thousand households are accepted as homeless and in priority need; nearly six million homes fail to meet the government’s ‘Decent Homes Standard’; more than one million children live in overcrowded housing; more than seventy thousand children homeless children live in temporary accommodation. We all know the devastating effect this has on young lives. Shame on us for allowing it to continue. So why does it happen? Successive governments have been in thrall to the economics of the market. Housing has been used for speculative investment. Private rentals are insecure and expensive. People are being forced to move from their local areas (for example parts of London) to where housing is cheaper. And then there is the infamous bedroom tax. In this hostile environment it has been left to housing associations to fill the gap. Peter tells me of the work that Derwent has done in its first fifty years and which you will read about in the following pages. A major concern has been to build affordable housing. There has been special provision for older people or those affected by domestic violence. The needs of

7

students, key workers or those able to take a first step towards home ownership are recognised. And those young people who are caught in poverty, trapped by intermittent, casual jobs and starvation levels of benefits - they too have to be considered. People here are striving hard to provide good housing for all who need it. But the context in which they are working needs to change. We should reclaim the principle that good housing for all is a shared responsibility. This means public investment. It means planning to create communities with good infrastructure, a pleasing sustainable environment and, above all, real, secure employment. Good housing is an outcome we would like to see, yet to achieve it we have to challenge assumptions in the public discourse that go unquestioned. Times change. Maybe it is time they changed again.

Ken Loach Writer & Director


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Suzy Brain England and Peter McCormack:

Our amazing journey

I’m delighted to be able to share my thoughts with you as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, a magnificent achievement for a business which has faced many changes and challenges over the years. Our founders would surely be proud of the legacy on which we have built over the last few decades. Their vision of delivering high quality affordable homes is something to which we’ve always held true, and although how we fund and deliver those homes may have changed, the principles and ethos behind the provision hasn’t. I feel immensely proud to be part of this amazing journey which has seen us grow from a small co-operative housing society into an organisation which spans many markets and turns over many millions of pounds each year. Pictured: Above top: Suzy meets residents at the ‘Big Get Together’ in 2011. Above: At the opening of Chambers Court in Eastwood, 2013.

Perhaps most importantly for me is how people have kept the business innovating and evolving over the years. Without our wonderful colleagues and customers we wouldn’t be where we are today.

8

The last few years have been tough for everyone connected with the housing sector, but I hope we will soon turn a corner. I’m looking forward to a bright future and hope that we can continue to offer quality homes and services for another 50 years. Suzy Brain England Board chair


OUR AMAZING JOURNEY Pictured: Left: Peter with colleagues at Derwent Living’s headquarters on Pride Park.

From such small beginnings as a co-operative housing provider our organisation has seen unbelievable growth over the years. If our founding members visited us today I’m sure they would be amazed at the changes which have taken place since 1964. I’m sure that they would also quickly understand how we have had to adapt and change how we do business in order to fulfil our vision of providing hundreds of new affordable homes each and every year. It’s our planning, our ventures, our skill and our innovation which has allowed us to continue to excel and grow over the years. Indeed the culture of doing things differently is

something which I feel stands the organisation apart. As our founders geared up the business to take advantage of new legislation and funding, we have diversified our work, becoming specialists in fields such as student accommodation, facilities and records management. We’ve always looked for emerging markets and opportunities where we can use our skills to make a real difference. It’s through these continued efforts that we are able to continue to build with very little grant funding while others slow or stop their building programmes. Our work today covers many sectors and we have trodden many paths over the years, but our commitment to our core business remains steadfast. We are a truly private organisation with a social purpose, with an ever reducing reliance on government funding. As we look forward to the next few years, we need to look at how we can evolve to best meet the needs

9

of our customers. By 2033, housing associations will be responsible for housing a fifth of the UK population. With that massive responsibility is the need to become more efficient, using new technologies to deliver improving services and to reduce costs. We’ve started along this path already, and I’m delighted at the steps we’ve taken over the past few years. I feel we’re better prepared, leaner and more focused and that for me is a positive place to be. Our people and our business are in great shape, as they have been since the start, and although the future may well be tough, I’m confident that we have what it takes to meet those challenges. Peter McCormack Chief executive


50 YEARS OF DERWENT LIVING

Forged in the fires of industry Co-operative or shared ownership of housing wasn’t a radical new idea forged in the 1960s. In England it dates back to Queen Victoria’s reign, at a time of silver jubilees and worldspanning empires, where slum housing was becoming an ever-increasing problem.

Individual rights While the American Civil War raged and Abraham Lincoln’s determined efforts to end slavery finally succeeded across the Atlantic, Britain was already taking the next steps to confirm individual rights and freedoms. The 1860s saw the creation of modern trade unions, while Acts of Parliament ensured universal education and asserted the rights of women in marriage. The nineteenth century saw a huge growth in the population of Great Britain. By the end of the century there were three times more people living in Great Britain than at the beginning.

Pictured: Left: Queen Victoria, who reigned for 64 years from 1837 until her death in 1901. Above: a typical 19th century street slum. Top right: The Rochdale Pioneers, builders of the first co-operative housing scheme. Bottom right: A shift underway in a busy mill.

10


FORGED IN THE FIRES OF INDUSTRY

The great migration As the population grew rapidly, people drifted into the towns and cities from the countryside looking for employment and a better way of life. The Industrial Revolution had been the catalyst for this population shift, with mills and factories employing thousands of workers. The influx led to a huge demand for affordable housing. Large houses were turned into flats and tenement buildings with landlords not concerned about the condition or living standards in the properties. Many of those in the tenements could not afford the rent so they let out areas in their rooms

to lodgers who paid between two pence and four pence a day. By the middle of the nineteenth century affordable housing was evolving in various ways. Although its focus was on tackling overcrowding by providing decent accommodation, it was also seen as a way of tackling poor sanitation, disease and immorality.

New thinking New initiatives like the ‘Model Dwellings Companies’ were created. These built new homes for the working classes of which the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes was the first in 1844. Some industrial leaders also set about providing philanthropic housing to their workers. These include Robert Owen at the beginning of the 19th century and Richard and George Cadbury at the end. The Bournville model village represents the legacy of this today. The 1860s saw the emergence of the first housing associations through

11

the work of people like Olivia Hill. Pioneers like her took the view that previous social housing initiatives, such as the model dwellings companies, were failing to meet the needs of the poorest workers. In 1861, in the market town of Rochdale, men from a working class movement set up a land and building company, the aim of which was to “build a superior class of dwelling for the working men.” The Rochdale Pioneers, as they would come to be known, came from communities that had felt the devastating fallout of the Industrial Revolution. They were determined to make sure those in their communities would no longer fall victim to such appalling conditions.

Small beginnings The development of affordable and high quality co-operative housing was high on the Pioneers’ agenda. Their first co-operative housing was built behind Spotland Road, Rochdale, and consisted of 25 houses.


50 YEARS OF DERWENT LIVING

In 1869 this was taken over by the main Rochdale Equitable Pioneer Society which itself had built 84 homes for members in the town two years earlier. By the end of the 19th century the Society had become a relatively large landlord in the area with around 300 houses to rent.

End of an era By the end of Queen Victoria’s reignupon the venerable monarch’s death in 1901- the voice of the ‘working man’ was strengthening, and in the 1906 General Election 53 Labour MPs were elected. It also saw those responsible for designing new housing beginning to consider the quality of life of those who would live in them and the surrounding environment. The tenant co-partnership movement in the early 1900s signalled the second wave of co-operative housing development. This started in 1901 with the founding of Ealing Tenants Ltd. The first ‘tenant co-partnership co-operative’ was built at Brentham Garden Suburb in Ealing. The name reflects the growing influence of the garden city movement

pioneered by architect Ebenezer Howard. Prominent examples of co-partnership housing are at Hampstead Garden Suburb, now one of the most expensive parts of London, and Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire.

Impact of war World War I interrupted the development of co-partnership housing but peacetime saw legislation give the movement the same access to government aid as council housing. However, copartnership slowly became sidelined as most councils chose to build for themselves. The co-partnership investment model, requiring a mix of tenant and private investment failed. Investors were often over-eager to see a quick return for their money, encouraging asset stripping via selling off homes.

Change of focus The period between the global conflicts in the 1920s and 1930s saw huge social changes in the UK. The first Labour governments were elected under Ramsay Macdonald either side of the General Strike (1926) as those who had sacrificed so much

12


FORGED IN THE FIRES OF INDUSTRY Pictured: Far left: The horror of the trenches on the Western Front. Left: During the General Strike of 1926 volunteers were employed to keep the buses running together with a Police Constable for protection. Below left: The first Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. Below bottom left: Firefighters battle to put out a blaze at the height of the Blitz.

in World War I voiced their demands for a better place in a rebuilt Britain. The traditional class divide of master and servant was broken down as the old order gave way to a more inclusive society. This in turn led to the establishment of two dominant forms of tenure in the housing market: council housing for working people and the growing popularity of home ownership for the emerging middle classes.

Growth of ownership From the end of World War II to the mid 1970s, the UK’s public housing policy focused on developing these same two areas of tenure. It encouraged individual home ownership through income tax allowances, known as Mortgage Interest Relief at Source (MIRAS) and the creation of a growing portfolio of council housing, which peaked at providing homes for 31.5% of the population in the ‘70s. Under co-operative ownership, residents paid a monthly rent to service the mortgage borrowed by the builders of their homes. The loan was made affordable by mortgage tax relief and when members moved out they were entitled to a premium payment.

Political divide However, it was that same stock of public housing that was about to become a seminal political issue as the clamour for an individual’s ‘right to buy’ became a focal point for a sea change in British politics. During the late 1970s, a move towards a free market economy in housing terms was driven in no small part by Howard Cutler MP, the leader of the Conservative controlled Greater London Council. An avalanche of social housing sell-offs began when the GLC began to make available hundreds of properties at extremely advantageous prices. After 45,000 sales nationally in 1979, Mrs. Thatcher’s government passed the 1980 Housing Act, whereby 5,000,000 council house tenants in England and Wales won the legal right to buy their house from their local authority.

13

Out of the ashes After the Second World War there was a massive increase in house building. The destruction of whole swathes of the nation’s towns and cities combined with popular demand for good quality public services led to new developments up and down the country. Labour minister Nye Bevan was driven by the belief that the war had given the country the opportunity to create something new. His commitment to house building was embraced across the political divide and the Conservative government of the 1950s continued it. Indeed Harold Macmillan increased it to 300,000 houses per year. The newly built housing was often radical in design and on a much larger scale than seen previously.


1960s

Price Check 3.3p

Pictured: Below: The drapers A.E. Moult Limited at 24 Iron Gate in 1968, before Thompson and Partners and Derwent Housing Society occupied the building.

4.5p 8p £4,300 16p 4p

The e of huge change. d ca e d a s a w s 0 6 The 19 affectionately n e e b e av h y e th e ‘swinging ‘60s’, as at last throw off th ls a u id iv d in w sa dubbed, d express their n a y it rm fo n co r a shackles of post-w individuality. ed freedom manifest

al r greater individu allenged the These demands fo volution’ which ch re l ra ltu ‘cu of rm rmalities. themselves in a fo schooling and fo s, ug dr , ic us m , othing social norms in cl OUR STORY

3.3p


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

demolitions, 1.3 million new homes were built between 1965 and 1970. Underpinning this growth was the Housing Act 1964, which was set up to help housing societies in providing accommodation. It confirmed the role and responsibilities of local authorities in providing good quality housing. It also created the Housing Corporation, a non-departmental public body that funded new, affordable homes and regulated England’s housing associations.

A power shift A quieter revolution was also under way within the national sport of football. On the face of it, England manager Alf Ramsey, with his stern air and clipped BBC tones, was a symbol of stiff upper lip Britain. But his innovative mind and approach to the game was setting the foundation for his team to conquer the world in 1966. It was also a decade of political change as the Profumo scandal engulfed Harold Macmillan’s Conservative administration, leading to its defeat in the 1964 election by a Harold Wilson-led Labour Party.

Since the end of World War II the UK’s public housing policy was dominated by a focus on the encouragement of individual home ownership through tax relief on mortgage interest. Consequently, the number of owner occupiers consistently rose to reach the same level as tenants. Wilson was determined that the provision of new housing stock should keep pace with individual demand. During his time in office from 1964-70 he accelerated the building of new houses. Council housing rose from 42% to 50% of the total, increasing from 119,000 in 1964 to 142,000 in 1966. Allowing for

16

A new name for our region The 1960s was a time of change for many locations in the Midlands. Whilst the term ‘East Midlands’ had been in use before this time, it was not until the late1950s and early 1960s that the name was officially adopted. Prior to this, the area had been seen as a collection of several free-standing towns and cities of varying sizes with differing industries.


1960s

A testing time for transport The 1960s was a turbulent time for the rail industry in the Midlands, as the report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’ (more commonly known as the Beeching Report) was published on 27 March 1963. Pictured: Left: Geoff Hurst lifts the Jules Remit trophy aloft at Wembley, July 1966. Above top: Post-war house construction underway. Middle: A Trolley Bus just off the Strand in Derby, 1967. Bottom: Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Right: A Class D freight train pulls out of Matlock station, Derbyshire, 1961.

The recommendations led to a radical programme of cuts, which closed down thousands of smaller provincial stations and took hundreds of local ‘branch lines’ out of service.

17

Cut adrift The closure of these unprofitable lines throughout the country was the reason for the demise of the Great Central Main Line, which linked Sheffield to London. Nottingham and Leicester were also included on that route. The Beeching cuts left Mansfield as the largest town in Britain without any rail link at all, until the opening of the ‘Robin Hood Line’ in the early 1990s. 1964 saw the inception of the British Rail Research Division, which moved into purpose-built premises at the Railway Technical Centre in Derby. Their remit was to improve railway reliability and efficiency, while reducing costs and improving revenue. By doing this they became recognised as a centre of excellence, providing consultancy services to other railways around the world until their privatisation in 1996.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

The Derwent Housing Association Harold Wilson’s narrow victory in the 1964 General Election came with a pledge to accelerate the growth in the stock of social housing. A central tenet of this policy was the Housing Act introduced in July 1964. It established the central role of The Housing Corporation in funding new affordable homes and overseeing housing associations in England.

The Housing Act 1964 Through the newly established Housing Corporation, the 1964 Housing Act aimed to help housing societies to provide accommodation. It also reinforced the role of local authorities in using central funding to improve and expand their housing stock, providing affordable housing that could meet heightened demands generated by the new found confidence of ‘60s Britain. The Derwent Housing Association Ltd. was registered with the Housing Corporation on May 22, 1964.

Pictured: Above: A Police officer directs traffic at Derby’s Cornmarket in 1964. Seen from the bottom of Iron Gate. Left: The Derwent Housing Association’s original registration document showing the signatures of all its members.

18


1960s

Founding figures The organisation was founded by local building society manager Eric Naylor and solicitor Herbert Brewer, whose names appear alongside other members of the committee on the original registration documents pictured opposite (below left).

Eric Naylor

Herbert Brewer

• Francis ‘Eric’ Naylor – The decision by Eric Naylor, manager of the Derby branch of the Equitable Building Society, to resign and go into partnership with chartered surveyor and estate agent William ‘Bill’ Thompson made headlines in the Derby Telegraph on February 20, 1964. Crucially, that business relationship allowed access to facilities at Thompson and Partners. Eric was able to draw on his previous experience in local authority housing departments and as a senior assistant with a surveyors and estate agents. • Herbert Brewer – Joint founder Herbert Brewer provided the legal expertise from a career starting in 1936 which saw him rise to become a senior partner at Robinson’s Solicitors. He was a central figure in the local community through his work with the Erewash Conservative Association, the Institute of Directors, as chairman of his local parish council and the Masonic movement. It was much later in 1984 that he became notable for his vain attempt to recover assets held in Luxembourg from the National Union of Miners during the strikes. • William R Thompson – A senior partner at Thompson and Partners Estate Agents, ‘Bill’ Thompson teamed up with Eric Naylor when his business was based at 8 The Strand, Derby. The firm remained an important part of the association until 1979. • Samuel (Sam) Morrison – Born in County Down, Ireland, Sam Morrison moved to England as a child and had a distinguished military career reaching the rank of Major in the Royal Artillery during World War II. After the war he became an architect, setting up his own practice in Full Street, Derby in 1949. Morrison Design Ltd. is still going strong today and has worked on high-profile projects in Derby and across the world.

Bill Thompson

• Arthur Allcock – Another with a building society background was Arthur Allcock, who was a director and general manager of the Derbyshire Building Society where his career spanned 56 years. It was only interrupted by service in World War II. For a number of years in the 1970s he took on the role as chairman of the association as Eric Naylor took on a more operational role. Completing the committee were AS Bellinger – bank manager at NatWest, JR Clark and Colin Beardmore.

Sam Morrison

Between them these key figures possessed a range of skills, knowledge and experience to help the association through its formative years and beyond.

19


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Preparing to build

Delivering on promises

Shortly after its formation the organisation’s name changed from The Derwent Housing Association to Derwent Housing Society Limited. Its impact was not immediately obvious but it was hard at work from its base within Thompson’s offices in The Strand, planning how to deliver affordable homes for people in the city and beyond.

Nearly four years after its formation, Derwent Housing delivered the first tangible results of its efforts to secure funding and formulate further plans.

The Housing Act did not actually come into force until 1965 with the promise of £100 million in loans to approved housing associations to build houses to let. That commitment was confirmed when Harold Wilson was returned for Labour with an increased majority in the 1966 General Election. The country also embraced the ‘feel good factor’ from the home success in the 1966 World Cup. Derby would have to wait another six years for its own footballing triumph, but its architect was already in place as Brian Clough arrived at the Baseball Ground in 1967. Similarly, Derwent Housing was about to become equally successful.

In April 1968, a development of 21 houses was opened at Derwent Court, Findern Lane in Willington, Derbyshire. The significance of the project was endorsed by the presence of chairman of the Housing Corporation, Sir Caspar John, who declared the scheme officially open.

The urgent need for affordable homes With its commitment to making rents as affordable as economically possible, Derwent Court’s prices ranged from £4/5s a week to £4 /11s at a time when average wages were around £25 a week. The need to set rents at an affordable level was accentuated by a worsening economic situation. A huge national deficit, allied to the strain of the Suez Crisis, eventually led Wilson to go against his own

20


1960s Pictured: Far left: Edward Heath, pictured in 1966. Left: Eric Naylor (far left of photograph) pictured in the later 1960s. Below left: Sir Casper John with some of Derwent Housing Society’s first customers. Bottom left: Derby County manager Brian Clough in 1969. Right: 24 Iron Gate in 1970.

pledge and devalue the pound, immediately making imported foods and goods more expensive. The subsequent introduction of ‘hidden’ taxes and wage increases restricted to 3.5% only increased the pressure on peoples’ pockets and ultimately led to Wilson’s defeat by Ted Heath’s Conservative Party in the general election of 1970. But the new government remained committed to its predecessor’s housing policy. Consequently, the Housing Corporation provided one third of the capital for the Derwent Court project, with the other two thirds borrowed from the Derbyshire Building Corporation, to be repaid over 40 years.

Paving the way Despite a climate of economic uncertainty, Derwent Housing pressed on with its carefully laid plans, delivering 350 homes at Alvaston and the same number at Spondon in the following years; each scheme having its own subsidiary Housing Society under the umbrella parent body e.g. Derwent Housing Society (Alvaston) Ltd.

The success paved the way for further incorporations in Shrewsbury and Chatham. Before long other housing providers began to emerge, such as the Nottinghamshire Community Housing Association which was founded in 1973.

Permanent premises

24 Iron Gate Steeped in history The most striking feature of 24 Iron Gate is the row of six large windows at its very top, under the high M-shaped roof.

While Derwent Housing was busy planning to create affordable homes for its customers, it depended on associates to provide it with its own office base.

Originally a 17th century town house, it was rebuilt in the early 1800s. By the mid-19th century was in use by William Gillam, shoemaker.

The first registered office was within Thompson and Partners’ premises on The Strand, Derby in 1964. The need for full-time headquarters was not so acute in the early years, but by 1969, Thompson & Partners made the move to a former draper’s premises at 24 Iron Gate. Derwent Housing retained its close links by operating out of upstairs offices within the building. Unfortunately, staff had to vacate the office every six weeks when property auctions were staged on the upper floor!

The top floor, however, was occupied by Richard Keene, a printer who became one of Derby’s earliest photographers – going on to become a founder member of the Derby Photographic Society in 1884. The large windows allowed plenty of light into the studio. It is now a Grade II listed building.

21


19

70 s BUILDING ON FOUNDATIONS

10.7p


HAR.5

The TR R E G IS

AT IO

etary

e Secr

To: Th

ing Hous ent Derw n Gate, ro 24 I , y Derb P 3G DE1

1970s

D

D N AN

MAN

AGEM

ENT

D IV IS

AD. S RO KING SW3 4TS 122 , 03-7 1 26 DON 1-58 LON NE 0

IO N .

TELE

PHO

30

mber

Nove

1975

ted,

Limi

ety

Soci

,

adam

r/M ear Si

Price Check

ion orat orp C g sin Hou

74 ns ct 19 ciatio ing A Asso Hous sing u o H .... ......... n of o ti a tr ED ............... IMI...T......... Regis T...Y......L......... .... E ... I ... ... C ... ... O...... S... ......... G...... IN... ......... ......... HO...U...S......... ......... EN...T......... ......... n 13 ......... ......... sectio DER...W

... under ng ration Housi Corpo ter of Regis by the in the ration tered regist r en fo en ion has be plicat ......... n ... ap io ... s at ation’ ......... associ ......... associ at the ......... at the and th you th proved inform en ap sed to has be e plea t 1974 Ac We ar ng Housi of the under: ations Associ

5p

Name

9p 10.7p

.........

ion....

sociat

sing As

of Hou

.........

.........

.........

.........

.........

.........

...... .........

£4,975 24p 6p

Pictured: Right: An example of ‘town housing’, three linked Derwent properties in Shrewsbury,1975.

d rked contrasts, an a m f o ra e n a s a The 1970s w f development o e d ca e d d n co ’s se With Derwent Housing litical backdrop. o p le ti la vo a st in nsus was set aga t sharing a conse rs fi at s ie rt a p l ca efore main politi f housing policy b o ts n e m le e y n a towards m d stances. adopting polarise on gave and ‘Glam Rock’ so -free era of flares voice in the The colourful care r which found its ge an d an st re un way to social archic t fronted by the an en OUR STORY em ov m ck ro punk Sex Pistols.

23


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

BUILDING ON FOUNDATIONS

Its impact and a change in Government attitude can be seen by the fact that between 1974 and 1984, Derwent Housing Society built more than 2,000 homes including six large schemes with 100 or more properties.

Changing attitudes

Power struggle

Surge in building

During the same period, the battle for power between trade unions and the government saw both main parties lose power in turn before Margaret Thatcher introduced anti-strike legislation to try to ensure it would never happen again. ‘Right to buy’ became a central tenet of her housing policy and one which still has a major impact on the provision of and demand for housing.

Ten years had passed since the formation of both the Housing Corporation and The Derwent Housing Association in 1964 with the shared aim of providing low cost rented and co-ownership housing. This effort was given a significant boost in 1974 with the introduction of the Housing Association Grant (HAG), which led to a massive surge in the building of new properties.

Derwent Housing had to adjust to the changing attitudes of different governments and the changing requirements of an evolving society.

HAG enabled registered social landlords to acquire land or buildings and to build, convert or improve housing for rent or lowcost ownership.

24

The political and social upheaval during this period was extraordinary. Unions flexed their muscles with strikes by postal workers, miners and refuse collectors, impacting on peoples’ everyday lives and culminating in the ‘winter of discontent’ of 1979.


1970s

The emergence of right to buy

Pictured: Far left: An early photograph of Derwent Housing Society’s first chief executive John Martin (right). Top: Derwent Housing Society secretary Eric Naylor (left) at 24 Iron Gate. Middle: Derwent Housing Society’s first chair Arthur Allcock. Bottom: The original Derwent Housing Society logo.

There has never been any specific legislation preventing local authorities from selling their social housing stock to tenants, but until the early 1970s, such sales were extremely rare. In fact, the concept of selling council owned properties to tenants was initially mooted in 1959 by the Labour party in their manifesto of that year.

25

The Conservative-controlled Greater London Council (GLC) of the late 1960s, chaired by the flamboyant Horace Cutler, created the concept of a general sales scheme. However, GLC housing sales were not allowed during the Labour administration of the mid1970s, but picked up again once Cutler became Leader in 1977. Approximately 7,000 council properties were sold to their tenants during 1970, but by 1972 that figure increased to exceed 45,000. After Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister in May 1979, the legislation to implement the ‘right to buy’ was passed in the Housing Act 1980.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Pictured: Examples of Derwent developments in the 1970s. Top: Chatham 1976. Middle: Eastwood 1976. Bottom: Isleworth 1976. Right: Alfreton 1978.

The years leading up to the winter of 1979 had seen the implementation of ‘Three-day weeks’ in order to conserve energy, which led to power cuts, resulting in blackouts and TV shutdowns.

while still believing local authorities would continue to meet the bulk of the nation’s affordable housing needs.

But the ‘70s also brought cause for optimism with the promise of improved trade with European partners and the hope of economic independence that came as the country tapped into the new found riches of North Sea Oil.

The mid-1970s saw a change of pace for Derwent Housing Society with an accelerated building programme across an ever-broadening area. In 1975-76 work was completed on nearly 400 properties spread

Ted Heath’s Conservative administration saw the ‘right to buy’ take off as individuals were urged to share in this new optimism and the number of council houses sold in England rose exponentially. But Labour also encouraged ownership when they returned to power, and in 1977, housing minister Peter Shore published a green paper claiming home ownership as a “strong and natural desire which should be met.” Shore backed shared equity schemes aimed at getting council tenants on to the property ladder. He also supported the growth of the housing association movement

26

Branching out


1970s

Pictured: Left: A mini, with its tank empty, is pushed into a petrol station awaiting its turn in a long queue of motorists to fill up amid fuel shortages, December 1973.

over three schemes across the East Midlands. At the same time it completed properties further afield – 100 houses in Shrewsbury, 91 houses and flats in Isleworth, West London and 201 houses in Chatham. Many of these were estates which were gradually sold off over the years. Their management was transferred as Derwent Housing rationalised its operation in the early years of the 21st century.

Three-Day Week The ‘Three-day week’ was one of several measures introduced by the British government to conserve electricity, amidst a strike by coal miners.

During the mid-1970s, especially 1974-1975 in particular, the British economy was beset by rapid inflation. In an attempt to control this, the government capped public sector pay rises and clearly communicated an acceptable capped level to the private sector. This decision was to cause unrest amongst many British workers, especially those employed by the public sector, as wages were struggling to keep up with prices due to inflation.

To further compound the problem, the global effect of the 1973 oil crisis also drove up the price of coal. The government of the time, led by Edward Heath, entered into negotiations with the NUM but to no avail.

By mid-1973, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) had yet to call any sort of strike, but were requiring their members to work to rule. Imported coal was an economically unattractive proposition, so coal stocks dwindled dramatically. As the miners provided the majority of the country’s fuel, this left the British government urgently needing to explore alternative stocks of fuel.

In order to reduce electricity consumption, and thus conserve coal stocks, Heath announced a number of measures on 13 December 1973. Included in this was the ‘Three-Day Work Order’, more commonly known as the ‘Three-Day Week’, which came into force at midnight on 31 December. During this time, commercial consumption of electricity would be limited to three consecutive days each week. The goal was to ensure business continuity and survival, whilst avoiding further inflation and a currency crisis. Rather than risk a total shutdown, working time was reduced to conserve available fuel stocks.

Pictured: Left: Uncollected rubbish piled up during the Winter of Discontent 1978-79.

This ‘Three-Day Week’ was also designed to reduce wages and was a form of economic rationing not unlike that seen during the

27


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Second World War until 1954. This time however, it was of a different product - coal. In a surprising act, Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath called the February 1974 general election while the ’Three-day week’ was in force. The Conservative Party campaign emphasised the pay dispute with the miners, using the slogan “Who governs Britain?.” This election resulted in the Conservative Party losing its majority and Labour becoming the party with the most seats, but as part of a ‘hung parliament’. In the resulting talks, Heath failed to secure enough parliamentary support from the Liberal and Ulster Unionist MPs and Harold Wilson returned Labour to power in a minority government. The normal working week was restored on 8 March, but other restrictions on the use of electricity remained in force.

Further developments Surprisingly, the mid-1970s saw the development of Derwent’s core business in Derbyshire and

Nottinghamshire gather pace. New schemes were started in Alfreton, Eastwood, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Matlock, Little Eaton, Kilburn and Kimberley, accounting for nearly 600 new houses and flats. The decade also marked a shift in the mix of property being built, a move away from houses, typically three bedroomed, in favour of flats.

Heating up As the country sweltered through the unprecedented summer heat of 1976, which forced the introduction of drought measures including hosepipe bans, Derwent certainly warmed to its task. The increased activity is captured by the 1976 annual report from then chairman Arthur Allcock who noted: “Land had been purchased for 21 schemes on 31st December 1976 and building work had been completed or was in progress on 11 of these.” 263 units were let and consequently rental income enabled the construction and planning of 620 units across 11 schemes.

28

Pictured: Above: John Martin, who joined the organisation as chief executive in 1979.


1970s Pictured: Far Left: Thompson and Partners employees Sue Baker and Lyndsey Pate outside the back of 24 Iron Gate. Left: A customer outside a property in Alfreton, 1976. Right: Aerial view taken from Nurses’ Hostel of the Royal Infirmary, Derby, July 1978.

New face, new place In 1974, John Martin was appointed by the Housing Corporation and eventually given responsibility for its relationship with Derwent Housing Society. Five years later he became its chief executive at the same time as a grocer’s daughter from Grantham swept into power as the country’s first woman Prime Minister. While Margaret Thatcher was destined to change the political and social landscape for ever, John Martin was to be a key figure for Derwent overseeing its own major period of development and change. He started with a staff of just five at Derwent – Pat Hathaway, Sue Baker, Karen Clough, Jayne Marsden and Debbie Horobin. He joined just before the move from 24 Iron Gate to 20 Iron Gate opposite Derby Cathedral. This was Derwent Housing’s home until it moved to purpose built premises at Phoenix Street in 1985. When he was appointed, Derwent Living had just 700 properties with a turnover of £430,000. He was brought in by secretary Eric Naylor when the board decided it wanted an independent leader to take the business forward.

Making an impact in the city If the success and controversy of the maverick Brian Clough’s time in charge at the Baseball Ground had helped put Derby firmly on the sporting map, its general profile and development was given a major boost in 1977 when it was officially given ‘city’ status. Even so, by the end of the decade there had still not been many rented properties built in the city of Derby itself. Development had focused on moderately-sized schemes on the edges of the city including 84 at Pastures Hill, 75 at Hall Park Close, 40 at Darley Abbey and 32 at Lambourn Court. The last of these was unusual in that it was a community leasehold scheme and remains the only one with this type of tenure.

29

‘Letters Patent’ awarded Derby was finally awarded city status on 7 June 1977 by Queen Elizabeth II to mark the Silver Jubilee of her reign. The ‘Charter Scroll’ or ‘Letters Patent’ was presented by the Queen on the steps of the Council House to the Mayor, Councillor Jeffrey Tillet. It’s noteworthy that previous to 1977, Derby had been one of the few towns in England with a cathedral but not holding city status. No fewer than nine cities were contending for the city status title in 1977, namely Blackburn, Brighton, Croydon, Dudley, Newport, Sandwell, Sunderland, Wolverhampton and Derby.


80s 80

19


1980s

Price Check 17p 33p 35p £23,000 47p 12p

47p d nflict at home an co w sa s 0 8 9 1 t n le assy The turbu r, the Iranian emb a w s d n la lk Fa e 84. abroad, th iners’ strike of 19 m e th st a le t o n d siege, an e East Midlands, Pictured:

Left: Staff outside Chellaston Park Court, September 1984. Right: The offices of Thompson and Partners at 24 Iron Gate.

re, th t of Derwent’s co ar he e th at n tio vernment and Strike ac even families as go d an es iti un m m divided co e refused to yield. union leaders alik year-long unaffected by the e er w es ss ne si Few, if any, bu ception. ousing was no ex H t en w er D e. ut OUR STORY disp

31


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

The plans were denounced by the NUM with their President Arthur Scargill accusing the government of having a long-term strategy to close over 70 pits. Despite government denials, cabinet Papers subsequently released in 2014 indicate that Scargill’s assertions were indeed accurate, as 75 pits were at risk of closure over a three-year period.

Close to home In the early 1980s Derwent Housing continued to grow, and would look to new funding streams in order to achieve its goals. Still largely underpinned by funding from the Housing Association grant (HAG), this funding was now targeted at developing housing for the elderly and also for women fleeing domestic violence, together with specialist provision for disabled people.

Strike action In 1984, one of Derwent Housing’s founders, Herbert Brewer, became an unlikely central figure during

the 1984-85 miners’ strike, a highly symbolic struggle. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was, at that time, one of the strongest unions in the country, and viewed by some within the conservative party as having brought down the Heath government in the strike of 1974.

Pit closures The strikers ‘ aim was to prevent projected pit closures, which had been mooted in March 1984. The National Coal Board (NCB) announced that the agreement reached after the 1974 strike had become obsolete. 20 pits were to close, representing a loss of 20,000 jobs.

32

Consequently, several regional strikes took place in Yorkshire and Scotland. By 12th March, Scargill declared that strike action should be nationally implemented. Support was lukewarm in Nottinghamshire and North Wales, with the Nottinghamshire branch of the NUM splintering off to form the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM). Daily clashes took place between strikers and police, who were attempting to protect non-striking mineworkers from being attacked on the way in to work. The most notable clash, the ‘Battle of Orgreave’, took place on 18 June 1984, at the Orgreave Coking Plant near Rotherham. Approximately 5,000 miners and a similar number


1980s

The opening of Bank Court Derwent Housing Society developed a number of sheltered housing schemes throughout the 1980s.

Pictured: Left: Derwent Housing receiving the Civic Shield Award for energy efficiency in 1984. Top: the interior of 24 Iron Gate. Middle: John Martin with Dorothy Le Page. Bottom: the opening of Chellaston Park Court in 1984.

One of the first was Bank Court, situated towards the north side of the city near the ‘Five Lamps’ area of Derby, off Kedleston Road. Bank Court was completed in 1981.

33

It was a period of intense patriotism; the wedding of the decade between Diana Spencer and Charles Windsor, Prince of Wales, caused street parties to be held across the nation, including those enjoyed by many Derwent Housing tenants across the Midlands. 28 properties comprise Bank Court, a retirement housing scheme with 26 limited mobility units and two wheelchair accessible apartments. Fewer than 500 yards from local amenities such as bus stops, shops and the post office, and less than half a mile from a GP surgery, Bank Court was designed to be ideally placed for retirement living customers.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

of police struggled violently, with 51 picketers and 72 policemen being injured. Other less well known, but equally bloody confrontations took place. For example in Maltby, South Yorkshire, where the police were accused of being too ‘heavyhanded’.

Cause and effect Eventually, simple lack of money was the main reason for the miners’ defeat. Many people were unable to pay for heating over winter.

Pictured: Above top: Police deployed at Rotherham Silverwood Pit in 1984. Middle: The Rt Hon Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister pictured in 1983. Bottom: The first Derwent Housing Association logo.

Some families resorted to scavenging for coal on ‘spoil’ tips, a very dangerous practice. People were liable to slip and fall a long way, in fact, a number of people died in this manner. Many others were arrested for trespass and theft. On November 30, 1984 the government delivered an intended knock-out punch, when lawyer Herbert Brewer was appointed by the High Court as receiver of NUM’s

34

finances. He infamously declared: “I am the NUM.” As Mrs. Thatcher’s grip tightened, the Government tried to economically prevent Scargill’s union of its means to continue the fight. But the strikers refused to surrender the union’s money, which they had moved to Luxembourg from where Mr. Brewer tried in vain to seize the assets. The end was inevitable, however, and after a year without wages, a number of fatalities and confrontations between strikers and ‘scabs’, (nonstrikers), public sentiment began to change against the miners’ cause. The legacy of the strike is that some former mining areas continue to suffer significant unemployment and poverty since that time. Legislation has also rendered strike action much more difficult. Ironically, the lasting impact of the pit closures was to work in Derwent’s favour for the next decade, as many former British Coal properties were


1980s

Pictured: Left: The aftermath of the 1984 IRA attack on The Grand Hotel. Below: Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment guard Argentinian prisoners of war on the Falkland Islands.

renovated by Derwent , in order to meet the social housing needs of largely unemployed communities.

achieved, certainly didn’t harm Margaret Thatcher’s campaign to be re-elected in June 1983.

Socio-economic strife

Feelings ran high amongst many British people who also saw the sovereign nation as under attack from Irish terrorism, especially when an attempt to kill Mrs. Thatcher was almost successful in October 1984. A large bomb, planted without warning, exploded at the Conservative Party conference HQ at The Grand Hotel, Brighton.

The 1980s were, for many UK citizens, a turbulent period. An era of boom and economic prosperity engendered in many people a taste for short term financial gain over the more sensible outlook of delayed financial gratification. This had an obvious knock on effect to the housing and rental markets. The early 1980s were defined for many by the Falklands War, which, whatever it may or may not have

Due to Mrs. Thatcher’s free market economic policies, the latter half of the decade in particular was a time of rapid economic expansion. This was caused by steeply rising house prices, tax cuts, lower interest rates and high confidence. However, this boom was built on the shaky foundations of profits from service industries, such as life insurance, holiday companies, stock market speculation and the like. Against the background of a 17% Bank of England interest rate, the highest ever recorded, on January 1st

35

1980, house prices accelerated exponentially, and it seemed to many ordinary people that home ownership was an economic ‘Holy Grail’: the quick answer to all their financial problems. Market rental values are inextricably linked to property prices. When house prices increase, so do monthly rental costs. Despite their best efforts to insulate their tenants from inevitable increases, housing costs for tenants and owners alike were soaring. Derwent’s annual report of 1990 states: “ ...rents rose by 18.43% during 1989, and many secure tenancies are due for re-registration in 1991. Accordingly it is expected that during 1991, rents will rise by a similar level as in 1989.” With rising house prices, rising rents and rising inflation, it became clear that such an artificial boom could not be sustained.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Manufacturing and heavy industry was left in the doldrums, UK coal was left unburned by power stations who bought cheaper fuel from overseas. The once proud steel forging industries of Sheffield and the shipyards of the North East stood idle, whilst property speculators and currency traders in the South East of Britain flourished within a culture of avarice. Inevitably, such fleeting methods of wealth creation caused a steep rise in inflation and a larger UK current account deficit. Policies to tackle this inflation caused the subsequent recession of 19911992. The world was changing dramatically both at home and abroad. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1987 again emphasised the sacrifices people were prepared to make for freedom of choice without state control of every aspect of their lives. At home, Margaret Thatcher was returned for a third term in Downing Street but the ‘Iron Lady’ was beginning to lose her grip on power.

While eventually it was her own party that brought about Mrs. Thatcher’s downfall, with John Major her surprise successor in 1989, Derwent saw the need to evolve and change, identifying new markets along the way. Between 1984 and 1989 it developed homes for shared ownership, houses and flats for affordable rent as well as buying individual properties for conversion into rented accommodation. The vast majority of these were located in and around Derby in places such as Ashbourne and Allestree. Then chief executive John Martin recalled: “We got involved with shared ownership at the very beginning thinking it was a good way of moving people towards owner-occupied properties which they had previously found unaffordable.” Sheltered housing was an area of significant growth, with many new warden-assisted schemes being developed through into the early 1990s. At the same time the development of Cavendish Court in 1982 heralded a refocusing on providing new properties within Derby itself.

36

Pictured: Above: Peter Saunders, who became chair of the organisation in 1989.


1980s Pictured: Far left: Staff dressed as a punk rock group for a party at the sheltered housing scheme at Wheeldon Avenue, Christmas 1981. Left: John Martin and Dorothy Le Page at the opening of All Saints Court. Below: Former board chair and committee member Dorothy Le Page. Right: Colleagues outside the Phoenix Street offices.

Derwent Housing Society sought new ways to diversify its operation as a provider of different services. This enabled it to access other types of funding, mirroring the efforts of David Edmonds at the Housing Corporation to reduce the reliance on central funding. The early days of Derwent had seen a shift from building of family homes to more flats because local authorities had plenty of threebedroomed houses. Throughout the ‘80s Derwent was affected by the Right to Buy initiative which allowed tenants to buy their homes at a discount. This had a profound effect on housing associations as houses sold much more readily than flats.

Staff continues to grow With John Martin continuing to oversee Derwent’s operation as chief executive, a role he was to fulfil for a remarkable 28 years, the early ‘80s also saw the arrival of Paul Wisher, who would become deputy chief executive, while another stalwart Allan Bate had begun his quarter of a century of service as a board member. Another key figure was Dorothy LePage, a tenant and former Rolls Royce employee who had been a committee member from 1965-1971 before she moved to Worcester. When she returned to Derby in 1976, she re-joined the management committee, becoming chair in 1979. She chaired the housing management sub-committee and personnel sub-committee for many years before handing over as chairman to Peter Saunders in 1989. Dorothy sadly died three years later.

37

Moving time for expanding team As Derwent Housing Society continued to expand, they began to outgrow the office at 20 Iron Gate and a new headquarters was needed. A purpose built new premises on Phoenix Street was chosen as the way forward and in May 1985 Derwent moved into its new premises. The continued development of its organisation, services and staff meant that they quickly outgrew their new home and in 1990, a new £290,000 extension was opened at Phoenix Street offering an enlarged reception area to provide a more comfortable waiting area for visitors and tenants. Phoenix Street was home for Derwent Housing for the next 18 years until the move to its current premises on Pride Park.


1990s

Price Check 28p £1.19 91p £50,000 83p 36p

Pictured: Left: The Brackenfield scheme opening, 1990. Right: The Phoenix newsletter advertising the newly opened Herons home for the elderly.

s ded John Smith a n e e cc su ir la B y n de When To , after Smith’s sud ange 4 9 9 1 in r e d a le r sea ch Labou attack, a political pt of rt a e h a m o fr h nce deat lair rejected the co orities’ fiscal B t. n e in m im s a w vouring local auth central control, fa independence. impact on social cant ould have a signifi w y lic po in ge an r became Prime This ch 97, when Tony Blai 19 r te af n io is ov housing pr sted until 2007. administration la r’s ai Bl r. M r. te is Min

OUR STORY


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

the Domestic Violence Group, it established Rebecca Court, a Derby City Centre domestic violence refuge. For the next 20 years Rebecca Court provided a safe place for women and their children fleeing domestic violence.

Changing markets Although Derwent Housing had been developing shared-ownership homes since the early 1980s, the business still needed a better balance of public and private income if it was to weather the economic storm.

A power shift Tony Blair’s ‘New Labour’ movement embraced the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of the free market, similar to Mrs. Thatcher’s economic policies. Derwent soon recognised that it had to become more independent of public funding. Chief executive John Martin recalls: “We decided to generate monies in the commercial sector which we could use to improve or increase our existing social housing assets.” In 1995, ‘rogue trader’ Nick Leeson was to send shockwaves through

the banking system. Having lost £827m single-handedly, his employer, Barings Bank, was declared insolvent. It became apparent that Derwent should take steps to ensure it was not reliant on one sector of the housing market: effectively attempting to insulate itself from catastrophic events beyond its control.

Womens’ refuge Derwent continued to build on its work providing homes and services for people with specific needs and requirements; in collaboration with

40

John Martin recalls the catalyst for this change being the re-development of the British Coal Board portfolio in the early 1990s. Derwent Housing bought 173 such properties, renovating them and bringing them up to a good standard before letting them. Then came the single biggest social housing scheme in Derby for many years. A scheme at Shearwater Meadows in Sinfin was a joint venture with four other housing associations. It included 121 new homes for rent and 21 for shared ownership. It came about after a council sponsored competition between a number of housing associations, confirming Derwent Housing’s reputation.


1990s

A time of boom and bust The 1990s had arrived, and with a new decade came a period of economic uncertainty. The late 1980s had seen rising house prices, tax cuts and a climate of over-confidence, in what became known as the ‘Lawson Boom’. Pictured: Left: Christchurch Court in Derby. Above top: Dewi Morris who served in a number of capacities at board level from 1985 until 2011. Middle: A board visit to a construction site in the early 90s. Bottom: Paul Wisher, who served with the organisation from 1982 until 2011.

But the old adage ‘what goes up must come down’ is especially accurate in economics, the abrupt end of the boom causing deep recession. 16th September 1992 saw the short selling of the pound back to the Bank of England on an unprecedented scale, creating a billionaire out of American investor George Soros. As a result the pound went into free fall, the stock market crashed and the housing market spiralled with it. Although development of new schemes had slowed down for Derwent during this time, they didn’t cease entirely. The Herons opened its doors in February 1993, with St. Mary’s Wharf following suit in 1994.

41


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Behind the scenes, Derwent was entering a period of stability, with Dewi Morris acting as chairman throughout the subsequent decade. Chief executive John Martin led a team consisting of business development director Brian Humphreys, finance director Ian Smith, operations director Kan Singh and corporate service director Paul Wisher.

Specialist elderly care The Herons, at Toton, near Nottingham, opened its doors to residents in February 1993. The design of the scheme balanced the best of old and new, providing a homely, safe and friendly environment to a high standard. Designed to give all the comforts of home, The Herons comprised 38 private, single rooms with ensuite WC and was fully furnished. Rooms also featured television and telephone points and included a hearing loop if required. The Herons included three dining rooms and residents were actively encouraged to take part in social activities. An on-site hair salon, a

laundry room and outside spaces were available, even a greenhouse where residents could grow and tend to plants and flowers. The Herons provided thousands of customers with quality care over the years and was eventually sold to the Methodist Housing Association (MHA) in 2010. Changing markets and increased specialist care meant that a provider operating a number of similar schemes was better placed to continue the operation of the home and keep the high levels of service for which it was renowned.

Two-way communication Since its first developments for retired people back in the 1970s and the creation of residents’ committees, Derwent prided itself on giving its customers a voice, and the chance to help shape the services and facilities it provided. In 1995 this was put on a more formal footing with the formation of the Residents’ Federation, which quickly became the Derwent Residents Consultative Committee (DRCC).

42

Above: Top left: Ian Smith, Derwent Living’s resources director who joined the business in 1990. Top right: The Herons’ staff shortly after the home opened. Above: An early edition of resident newsletter The Phoenix. The lead article is a retrospective piece on the first ever residents’ conference. Right: Benjamin Russell Court student accommodation in Leicester.


1990s

43


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

The DRCC would emerge as a powerful and valued sounding board for Derwent, assisting with decision making over years to come. In 2003 Derwent LINC (Linking, Information, Networking and Communication) was formed, a resident involvement initiative allowing residents to feedback and be involved in decisions about their homes. The winter of 1994 saw the first edition of ‘The Messenger’ for residents in Nottingham to supplement ‘The Phoenix’ newsletter.

DE R W E NT housing

Pictured: Above top: Student accommodation at Forest Court in Loughborough. Above: The Kennington Court student development in 1997. Bottom: The second Derwent Housing logo, 1995.

In an era where the Internet was not yet used by the average person, a mobile office was developed which could be taken to different locations. It was used for mobile road shows and consultations among a wide range of events. There was also a fresh new look for the Derwent Housing logo which had a makeover in 1995. Despite the hit taken by the economy as a result of Black Wednesday, the rest of the 90s are chiefly remembered by many as

44

a period of cool optimism. Britain was going to be great again. We had our own music, art and identity as US Grunge gave way to Britpop. The Cold War was over and the War on Terror hadn’t begun. People were riding on the wave of New Labour and even Peter Mandelson couldn’t resist strutting his stuff to the theme of Labour’s victory.

A connected world The Global Village became a reality, use of the internet took off on a huge scale and the world was getting smaller, one ‘Ask Jeeves’ query at a time. In 1996, Google was born. What started out as a research project by two Stanford University students and was based in a friend’s modestly-sized garage in Menlo Park, California, eventually became a multinational corporation worth roughly 59 billion dollars. Now listed as the most visited website in the world, Google has had a turbulent history with censorship and copyright issues. It didn’t take long for the world wide web to consolidate its place as the


1990s

Pictured: Left: Former chief executive John Martin meets Prime Minister Tony Blair.

most powerful medium from which to conduct professional and social communication. Between 1995 and 1999, use of the internet skyrocketed and by the time the 90s came to an end, 248 million users were booting up and logging on.

Joining the education debate In the run-up to his election success of 1997 Tony Blair famously outlined his party’s three main priorities as “education, education, education’”. Consequently, with student numbers ever increasing, Derwent was quick to recognise a potential growth market. In 1997 it took over the management of 162 bed spaces at Kennington Court in Nottingham. By 1999, Derwent’s student accommodation holding had grown to nearly 600 bed spaces in Nottingham, Leicester and Loughborough.

Building up stock Just as the first passengers were passing through the Channel Tunnel, opening up new horizons for travellers across Europe, Derwent’s

other major area of growth into the new millennium was towards market rental schemes.

the lack of space at Phoenix Street, a purpose built base at the new Pride Park area was planned.

Regents Court in Nottingham was followed by James Close in Derby as Derwent built a relationship with Japanese car giant Toyota, to house workers for their new European HQ based at Burnaston, seven miles south west of Derby.

The original site of Derby’s railway manufacturing industry, along with gas works and gravel extraction, the site had become derelict and needed 10 years of extensive redevelopment to reclaim.

Near the start of Derwent’s fourth decade, it only possessed around 40 market rental properties. By the end of 2002, that number had increased by more than a factor of ten, with 500 properties; meanwhile, student accommodation numbers grew to over 1,500 bed spaces. There was also growth in general needs housing from 2000 to nearly 3000. Management of accommodation such as NHS Trust housing was another market into which Derwent Housing expanded, which would become increasingly important as the years passed.

On the move again By the end of the 1990s Derwent employed 138 staff and was again outgrowing its offices. As a result of

45

By the time Derwent needed to relocate, the Pride Park area was nearing completion. Derwent’s new offices were just a few metres from a nature reserve, and only a five minute walk to Derby County’s new home ground. Just as with the St Mary’s Wharf development in 1994, which had also been a derelict railway site, returning a former industrial site back into use was an excellent fit with Derwent’s ethos. The end result was the development of new bespoke offices at Centro Place to where Derwent Housing Association would move from Phoenix Street at the end of 2003, and where it remains today.


20

00s ADAPTING TO A

CHANGING WORLD


Pictured: Below far left: Chief executive Peter McCormack. Below left: Trinity Square student accommodation in Nottingham.

2000s

Price Check 34p £1.24 £1.95 £93,000 £1.10 40p

40p

had major events that r fo le b ta o n e er w ost The 2000s n peoples’ lives. M d o s ce en u q se n co laye dramatic e’ but nature too p ran ad -m an ‘m e er w e ey w th of thes eople question ho p g in ak m in t ar p its -to-day basis. their lives on a day r 11, 2001, as

be in horror on Septem ngton and The world watched ashi hed in New York, W as cr es the Indian an pl ed ck hija an earthquake in , 04 20 ay D ng xi Bo wave Pennsylvania. On tsunami. The tidal ge hu a d te ra ne Ocean ge OUR STORY ing a 0,000 people leav killed more than 20 n. trail of devastatio

47


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

ADAPTING TO A

CHANGING WORLD Time to reflect Derwent Housing began its 40th year in its new bespoke offices at Centro Place. It was a time for the organisation to look at itself and reflect on how far it had come. Its own report summed-up that journey:

Turbulent times Further shock and loss of life was felt closer to home in 2005. The euphoria of the announcement that London had secured the 2012 Olympic Games was blown away as a series of suicide attacks targeted the capital’s transport system in the ‘7/7 Bombings’.

stretching from the 1970s through to the early ‘90s. But these seismic events stood in contrast to the continuing development of individual aspiration, which remained central to Tony Blair’s philosophy as he won a third term in office in 2005.

The reality of the threat that terrorism can pose to people going about their daily lives had not been so stark since the IRA mainland campaigns

Notably, at this time, a groundbreaking event hit the headlines: the IRA announced the formal end of its campaign.

Pictured: Above: A customer in specialist housing. Right: The aftermath of the Tavistock Square bus bomb on 7/7. Far right: Jo Brand and the Noschese family during filming for the DVD.

Under this new tide of optimism, Derwent knew it had to match and reflect Britain’s positive aspirations into its customer focus, accordingly it was set to undergo major changes to its business over the coming decade.

48

“Since being formed in1964, Derwent Housing Association has evolved from a small company, mainly providing social housing for people with low incomes or special needs, to a significant and multifaceted organisation with expertise across a wide spectrum of housing provision.”


2000s

49


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

...and a time to look forward While proud of its past and the reputation it had established, Derwent realised that this was no time to rest on its laurels. During the spring of 2004 it was re-branded once more as ‘Derwent Living’ to reflect the aspirational attitude of the time and increase its appeal to young professionals and students.

Pictured: Top: The executive team move into the Centro Place offices in 2003. Above: The new headquarters under construction. Right: Steve McDonough, who joined the business as commercial services director.

It also continued to develop its commercial approach aimed at reducing reliance on diminishing central funding and generating its own revenue to be re-invested in social housing. Already, at the start of this period, commercial activities accounted for more than 80% of its surplus.

50

Changes at the top After a long period of stability there were changes to Derwent’s executive team. Business development officer Brian Humphries stepped down through ill health and sadly died soon after leaving.


2000s

Pictured: The Trigon, Derwent Living student accommodation in Sheffield. Bottom: Brian Humphries.

Operations director Kan Singh moved on to take up a new challenge and was replaced by Jenny Inker while Carl Larter took on the business development post. Steve McDonough joined in the new role of commercial services director. By the end of 2004 the staff had expanded to 179 people of which 89 were office staff.

Shift in stock Since the millennium the rise in student accommodation had been significant but there had also been increases in market rental and leasehold for the elderly schemes. This trend was to continue over the

next two years with major student accommodation developments in Birmingham and Sheffield. But chief executive John Martin, who had marked a quarter of a century in-post, was keen to emphasise that importance was still attached to providing social housing, although planning policy was shifting to a focus on integrated developments with builders being obliged to include an element of social housing alongside private homes.

Testing time 2005 was a testing year for Derwent Living as it underwent its first Audit Commission inspection having entered into a partnership with Connaught Property Services for it to act as a single repairs contractor for ten years.

social housing contracts were later taken over by Lovell in 2010.

The beach fund Derwent made a groundbreaking move in 2005 when it partnered with Morley Fund Management, a London-based asset management business, to launch the first UK property fund investing solely in student accommodation. The Beach Student Accommodation Fund was a Limited Partnership, a huge coup for Derwent Living as the first of its type in the UK.

The inspection gave Derwent a ‘fair’ rating and acted as a catalyst for the planning and implementation of a number of service improvements.

John Martin said: “We have been creative and we have shown that we are not just a social housing provider but are open and receptive to new ideas. It is about generating profit, which allows us to deliver our core business – that’s our social housing – without being totally reliant on grants.”

Unfortunately, the relationship with Connaught failed to deliver on the hopes of both residents and staff: its

Subsequently, Derwent’s business model and changing markets meant it sold its share in the Beach Fund.

51


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

52


2000s

A landmark development In mid-August 2007, the ten-thousandth property in Derwent’s portfolio, an apartment in the City Point scheme at Wilmorton, Derby, was occupied by resident Melanie Walker.

Built by Barratt Construction, Derwent Living commissioned a total of 54 homes at City Point: 43 were let out at affordable rents, and 11 apartments to shared ownership. In 2007, research by the National Housing Federation indicated that the country needed to build 70,000 new social homes a year in order to keep up with the demand. Derwent celebrated the occupation of its 10,000th property at an event pictured here on the 25th October 2007. The photo opposite shows Paul Wisher, Deputy Chief Executive of Derwent Living (right) standing next to Melanie Walker, Mr Kevin Broughton, MD of Barratt Homes East Midlands and Councillor Pauline Latham OBE, the Mayor of Derby (left).

53


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Sharing the cost While the prolonged saga surrounding Tony Blair’s handover of power to his successor Gordon Brown had caused some economic uncertainty and unrest, it had done little to slow down the increase in property prices. By the time the Chancellor finally made the short move next door to Number 10 Downing Street an average mortgage in 2007 already stood at more than £100,000, putting it beyond the reach of many whose salaries had failed to keep pace with rising property costs.

For many it offered the best way to buy a home at a time of sharply rising costs and in its first year Derwent sold 178 ‘Easy Living’ properties. That number currently stands at nearly 1,000 properties. The Hub development in the centre of Milton Keynes was a typically popular shared ownership scheme which was given Royal approval when The Queen conducted its official opening.

Boss calls time

Again, Derwent was quick to see the potential market and a way to meet the housing needs of those who could not afford to own outright. In 2007 it introduced its ‘Easy Living’ scheme offering shared ownership.

In 2007, Tony Blair finally decided it was time to pass the baton of leadership to someone else and Derwent’s long-term figure head was preparing to make a similar move. After 28 years at the helm overseeing Derwent’s development, chief executive John Martin decided the time was coming to hand over the reins.

Shared ownership is a part-buy, part-rent scheme, which effectively offered people the chance to buy in stages. They could initially take on 25-75% of the cost with the rest covered by subsidised rent charges and a service charge to cover communal maintenance.

On the eve of his retirement at the age of 60, John said: “Although I have enjoyed running the company for 28 years I feel it’s the ideal time to hand over to someone younger who can progress Derwent Living’s growth and success, and take the organisation to the next level.”

54

Pictured: Top left: Colleagues pose on the balcony of Centro Place. Top right: Long service award recipients in 2001. Above: The Hub development in Milton Keynes, shortly after opening. Right: A stunning Easy Buy property at the Cromford View scheme in Ripley.


2000s

55


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

56


2000s

John Martin: 28 years of leadership John became chief executive of Derwent Housing Society in 1979, taking over from then secretary Eric Naylor. He saw the business grow enormously over the years, overseeing numerous housing developments and expansions into new markets.

57

The difference between the organisation John joined and the one he left was marked. He had seen the number of staff grow from just five to over 200. And from a cramped office above a city centre estate agency the business had grown big enough to have satellite offices around the country and a purpose built headquarters on Pride Park. John’s stewardship of the business had been extraordinary. And when he retired in 2008, friends, family and Derwent Living colleagues were there to wish him a long and happy retirement.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Peter McCormack Peter became the new chief executive of Derwent Living in 2008. He had already served as chief executive of a housing association based in Acton, London, having started his career in local government at Newcastle City Council. His experience of the housing sector came in the 1980s with a move to the Housing Corporation, where he rose to assistant director of operations in the East Midlands from 1992 to 1995. He then moved on to work with a number of housing associations before finally bringing his wealth of experience to Derwent.

Caught in a crisis Neither the new Prime Minister nor Peter McCormack could have chosen a more difficult financial backdrop to accompany the start of their new roles. The financial crisis that had been bubbling under since 2006 in the US was about to erupt into a collective economic global meltdown, the like of which had not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Its causes were many and complex, but a key factor was the level of unsecured ‘sub-prime’ mortgage debt in the USA, which saw its banks left

hopelessly exposed when people and institutions defaulted as the property bubble burst.

Commercial strategy By 2008, big financial institutions in a number of countries were facing collapse, stock markets tumbled and national governments were forced to step in to bail out major banks. Major economies including the UK were thrust into recession with suppressed activity in all sectors, including the housing and construction sectors, over a prolonged period. Throughout all this Derwent Living retained its commercial focus with 40% of its business made up of its commercial activity to fund its core services.

Going green An increasing focus for Derwent, like so many other businesses, was energy conservation and efficiency. Rising energy costs were having a significant impact on household budgets at a time when the economic downturn was undermining job security and wage freezes, even cuts, were common place.

58

Pictured: Top Left: Peter at Belper Town Football Club’s home dugout for a 2011 annual report photo shoot. Above: Peter at a residents’ meeting. Below: Peter at the opening of Canalbridge Close with Margaret Beckett and Andy Reed, March 2009.


2000s

59


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Derwent took the lead to ‘educate’ its customers and provide practical help where possible. One such initiative was carried out by the association’s Environmental Lighting Officer Trevor Price – or ‘Mr Lightbulb’ - as he became affectionately known. He spent much of his time visiting customers to change their old lightbulbs for energy saving replacements and handing out energy saving advice. At the same time high profile comic Jo Brand was used as the celebrity face of a DVD filmed at a Derwent customer’s home in Derby, illustrating how households could take steps to reduce their own energy bills. Pictured: Top and above: Jo Brand and customer Nadia Noschese during filming for the energy saving DVD. Right: Trevor Price aka Mr. Lightbulb.

Butterfly project Derwent gained recognition in ‘The Butterfly Project’, a national competition run by The Guardian Public Services Awards, and was

60

awarded first place in the ‘Complex Needs’ category for its established refuge in Derby, offering supported living for women who were victims of domestic violence.

Addiction and health The Butterfly Project also addressed the need for those who additionally suffered from mental health


2000s

Pictured: Derwent Living customers at the opening of the community allotment at Kilburn.

problems or drug and alcohol addiction. The initiative was in response to ‘Supporting People’, a government funded body set up to assist organisations such as Derwent Living to provide support services for the vulnerable. At that time, there was only one other similar service to the Butterfly Project in the UK, and it was based in Greater London.

Growing community A new scheme in 2008 reflected Derwent Living’s commitment to improving the landscape surrounding customers’ homes, encouraging the proactive efforts of people living in those communities. An action day the previous year saw Derwent customers in the Derbyshire village of Kilburn come together to clear litter and generally tidy up the estates. The residents also initiated the idea of creating a community allotment in which everyone could get involved. In August 2008 planning permission was given for the scheme and ground work to prepare the site was due to

start at the end of the summer with the first planting in early 2009. Derwent worked in consultation with their customers at every step of planning after many of them asked for an allotment to replace a disused car park. The allotment plots covered about the area of a tennis court in total, shared between those starting up with their vegetable growing skills who only required a small plot to tend.

New regulatory body The end of 2008 saw changes in the regulation of social housing in the UK. The Tenant Services Authority (TSA) - (formerly The Housing Corporation) became the regulatory agency of registered providers of social housing in England. Its role was to inspect housing associations and respond to any findings that might cause concern. Its remit was then expanded to cover local authority housing, Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO’s) and housing co-operatives from April 2010, representing almost 1,800 housing providers.

61

Parliamentary fraud In 2009, a climate of political scandal and the public’s cynical mistrust of authority became prevalent across the UK. This was caused by press revelations that many UK MP’s were claiming expenses both fraudulently and excessively. Monies were claimed dishonestly by MP’s to an extent that became almost commonplace. For example, on properties that were ‘flipped’ those on which expenses had been claimed for the MP’s primary home as opposed to a constituency secondary property.

Public exasperation The most notable public outcry was heard when Sir Peter Viggers, a senior Tory MP, claimed the £1,645 cost of a floating duck house for the pond at his Hampshire home. The backlash lead to resignations, repayments and even prison terms for one or two of the highest profile offenders.


10s

20

NOW &

NEXT


2010s

Price Check 49p £1.58 £3.09 £170,000 £1.39 68p

49p

l rry a great dea a c ’t n id d s 0 1 e 20 at The arrival of th ost, as the deep recession th l rm p on the globa ri of optimism fo g rm fi a d a h one 7 still ithin the Euroz started in 200 w s re su a e m erity d, economy. Aust ncial crises in Greece, Irelan fina fuelled major pain. ent the developm Portugal and S owever, drove Pictured: Above: Derwent Living’s bike recycling scheme. Far left: Involved customer Bob Bhogal uses the Derwent Living app. Left: The CERN Large Hadron Collider.

e, h tric cars, climate chang g in mind. Elec n vi Action to slow sa y g er en to shape logy with itiatives began in en of new techno re g l ta d governmen solar power, an of the decade. OUR STORY the early years

63


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Overseas optimism In contrast to domestic political strife, across the Atlantic Barack Obama became the first person of African descent to be elected to The White House on a wave of optimism and euphoria.

Youth culture Women and young people began reasserting themselves. On the global music scene, the extrovert Rihanna and North London singer-songwriter Adele ‘wowed’ their audiences in their very different styles. Students, represented by the National Union of Students (NUS), began to vocally demand a better deal for themselves, in the light of both the MPs’ expenses scandal and ongoing debates over student tuition fee subsidies.

Launch of Uliving

necessary to deliver high quality and caring management services for students. Bouygues Development is the UK property arm of French-based services group Bouygues, with a global turnover of more than £27 billion operating in over 80 countries worldwide. Uliving is now the seventh largest provider of student accommodation in the UK with more than 8,500 student rooms managed from offices in London, Nottingham, Sheffield and Birmingham. The two organisations’ unique blend of expertise with experience provides unrivalled financial strength. Ongoing university partnerships span the country, from York and Sheffield in the North, Nottingham, Loughborough and Leicester in the Midlands to Essex and London in the South. The success of Uliving continues today with ambitious plans for growth and more than 3,000 units currently in development.

Derwent recognised the raised expectations of students as a body, so took a major decision to explore the student accommodation market further.

An inclusive approach

In 2009, Derwent Living entered into a joint venture with Bouygues Development to launch ‘Uliving’ offering residential and other skills

Events like the ‘call out week’ (see opposite) built on Derwent Living’s reputation as a business that really listens to its customers.

64

Pictured Above: Inside the Palace of Westminster. Right: A polling station open and ready for the public to cast their vote in 2010.


2010s Pictured: Far left: Former board member Allan Bate, who served from 1981 until 2010. Left: Student accommodation at Trinity Square in Nottingham. Right: Peter McCormack and Leiona Tyrrell contacting customers in the call out week.

Derwent Living’s approach to involving customers was officially recognised in 2010, when it was awarded a coveted ‘landlord accreditation’ by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) after achieving a high score for involving residents in the organisation.

Award winning practices The landlord accreditation award process involves a thorough assessment looking at evidence and interviews with colleagues and customers alike. It considers the commitment to best practice procedures and, just as importantly, the levels of customer involvement within decision-making processes in the business. The award was presented at a celebration event by TPAS head of

corporate services Jenny Topham, who praised Derwent Living’s partnership approach to improving services, saying: “We got a real sense that involvement is important throughout the whole organisation.”

Spotting an opportunity in tough times May 2010 brought to an end an unprecedented period of Labour controlled Parliament in the UK with power eventually being handed over to a Conservative-led coalition with the Liberal Democrats, after no single party secured an overall majority in the general election. The new administration’s message was clear: the country had to balance its books. A period of tight control on spending would follow, with austerity measures putting enormous pressure on public and private sector costs. Derwent Living quickly recognised the need to outsource its services as a result. It identified the rapidly expanding facilities management market as one

65

Listening to customers In June 2010, Derwent launched its biggest ever customer consultation with a telephone call out event lasting a week, with more than 100 colleagues based at its Derby head office taking part. Chief executive Peter McCormack led by example, personally phoning customers to gain feedback on the range of services provided. He said: “It’s so important for us as an organisation to make sure that we keep in touch with people – especially during the downturn when people are often concerned about their rent or other financial issues. “ The week was hailed as a great success. Useful discussions had been held with 1,025 customers, who gave positive feedback, and, of course, also had issues that they wished to resolve.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

with excellent potential and decided the time was right to branch out once more.

Living as Suzy Brain England succeeded Duncan Smith following his retirement.

Launch of Derwent FM

Suzy had a long and varied career in public life spanning housing, health, benefits and helping people off welfare in to work. At the time Suzy was the chair of a number of public sector bodies including Berneslai Homes, Kirklees Community Healthcare Services and The Department of Work and Pensions Decision Making Standards Committee, to name a few.

The end result was the launch of Derwent Facilities Management Ltd (Derwent FM) as a subsidiary of Derwent Living. Within their HQ in Harrogate, it was to offer integrated and bundled services, or individual services (such as cleaning, security and maintenance) to suit a client’s needs.

Pictured: Above top: Resident involvement manager Mitch Allseybrook receives the TPAS accreditation award from Jenny Topham. Above: Customers get involved at a celebration of resident involvement, 2010.

Derwent FM now operates across a wide spectrum of clients including student accommodation, central and local government, the private sector as well as health and education facilities.

Change in the chair Around the same time there was a change of chairperson at Derwent

66

Suzy said on joining Derwent Living: “I am delighted to be joining the board. In my opinion, it is not just any board, but it is an extremely important vision to deliver social good through the commercial activity of selling, renting and sharing in the ownership of peoples’ homes. I have a great deal of experience in


2010s

Pictured: Board chair Suzy Brain England talks to Andrena White, home ownership manager at the launch of the business plan in 2012. Bottom: Paul Wisher, Paul Casey and Martin Corbett sign the paperwork to launch Derwent FM.

chairing boards and a significant amount of experience in social housing. My aim is to ensure that all the boards I work with are committed to the continuous improvement of themselves as individuals and as part of a team, so that we can continue to make sure that the services we provide simply get better and better.”

New opportunities After just a year of operation, Derwent FM and Derwent Living were some of the first to benefit following new Government guidelines to the way public services were out sourced. It won a £1.65 million contract with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to

provide office support services at its Nottingham headquarters.

eventual overthrow of Egypt’s rulers in what became the ‘Arab Spring’.

In its small and medium enterprises (SME) action plan, the government aimed to ensure each of its departments would undertake 25% of its business with SMEs.

The knock-on effect saw neighbouring countries thrown into turmoil as Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi met his violent end at the hands of a similar revolution, while Syria plunged into the darkness of a civil war from which it is yet to emerge.

Martin Corbett, Derwent FM’s managing director at the time, said: “Derwent Living is a not-for-profit SME which won this contract despite being up against much larger competitors.” “The win came directly after the government’s changes to the way it buys in goods and services in future. We are delighted to be among the first businesses to win a contract in this manner, and to be mentioned on the Cabinet Office website as an example of how the process will work.”

Year of stark contrasts Few could have foreseen the dramatic events of 2011 which would spark major changes across the whole volatile region of the Middle East. A modern day revolution using social media to push its participants forward caused an uprising and the

67

At home, the joyful celebrations of Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton stirred a different kind of patriotic fervour which stood in stark contrast to the August riots in parts of London. These provided a range of tests for the embryonic coalition government as they balanced international diplomacy with tackling domestic unrest, while struggling with the budget deficit. Its determination to cut public spending meant organisations such as Derwent Living had to be innovative with generating and obtaining funding. Derwent came up with a creative, innovative solution.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Homes from home

Big Get Together

In August 2011 Derwent Living became the first housing provider to bring direct institutional investment to the UK affordable housing sector.

Derwent Living’s policy of involving customers in deciding the way forward was extended for the first time to its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in 2011.

A £45 million deal with Aviva saw pension funding used to finance the taking over of 1,100 affordable homes. Derwent took over the ownership and management of the properties from Newcastle-based The Home Group. Mainly situated in Derby city, the homes were predominantly affordably rented with a smaller number of retirement and sharedownership properties. The deal strengthened Derwent’s position as a leading Midlands housing provider while consolidating its operations in a clearly defined geographical area. A series of consultation events with customers were held, the most attended being at the Quad in Derby, to enable new customers to meet Derwent personnel, with the opportunity to discuss any queries or concerns relating to the transfer from The Home Group.

In an effort to encourage more people to come along and learn more about the services it provides, Derwent re-branded the event as the ‘Big Get Together’ with an emphasis on fun activities and competitions. More than 150 people turned up at The Quad in Derby whilst another 30 watched online via a live web broadcast. They heard Derwent colleagues and representatives from partner organisations talk about the services they provide and could also hear speeches from the chairman and chief executive. Competition prizes on offer for residents included a full room and garden make-over courtesy of contractors.

In touch with new media The response to the live ‘webcast’ from the ‘Big Get Together’ showed that different media were now being used by many for global

68

Pictured: Top left: The Big Get Together in full swing in 2011. Top right: Chief executive Peter McCormack meets former Home customer Peter Blount. Above: Former chair Duncan Smith. Right: Suzy Brain England receiving the IOD Dr. Neville Bain award in 2013.


2010s

69


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

communication. The immediacy of text and social media is something people had come to expect across the world. It was significant that news of Bin Laden’s demise first surfaced when one of his near neighbours tweeted about the presence of US helicopters above his home. Derwent was looking carefully at how it stayed in touch with its customers and conducted a survey about the Derwent Life newsletter. More than 1,000 responded with 63% saying ‘yes’ they did read it, 20% saying ‘sometimes’ and 17% saying ‘no’ they did not read it. The real significance was that the survey was carried out by text – the first time Derwent Living had communicated with customers in such a way. More than 500 responses were received in just one hour proving that text messaging had become a vital communication tool and its use was to be developed going forward.

worldwide debate on future energy sources. It also brought into sharper focus than ever the need to reduce energy consumption, highlighting the need for our homes and offices to become more energy efficient. At the same time, Derwent Living had already embarked on a flagship, low carbon affordable housing scheme at Vicarage Road in Mickleover, Derby. It was the most environmentally friendly development that Derwent Living had built at that time. This development of one three-bed house, two two-bed houses and four two-bed apartments were all available to rent at affordable prices and included a number of eco-technologies, including insulated render walls and triple glazed windows with carbon neutral wooden frames.

New energy

Other features included photovoltaic panelling, hot water solar panelling, rain water harvesting and A-rated eco-gas boilers.

When an earthquake produced a tsunami that badly damaged a Japanese nuclear power plant in March 2011 it brought renewed urgency and passion to the

The scheme attracted plenty of attention at its launch in November. The opening was attended by acclaimed film and television director Ken Loach as well as a number of

70

Pictured: Above: Holly End Road, part of the Vicarage Road development. Right: Derwent Living’s revamped website, launched in 2011.


2010s Pictured: Far left and left: The opening of eco-scheme Vicarage Road in Mickleover. Right: Derwent Living’s Facebook page which now has over 550 likes.

local dignitaries, customers and colleagues. Ken had a close affinity with much of the work carried out by Derwent, having highlighted social and inequality issues including homelessness in gritty dramas such as ‘Up the Junction’ and ‘Cathy Come Home’. Ken said he had developed an interest in social housing and praised the ‘very high standards’ of the Vicarage Road project.

Looking forward Whether it was the keen anticipation of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations or the countdown to London 2012 Olympics, there seemed to be a new sense of enthusiasm across the country in 2012. The first ‘green shoots of recovery’ were at last tentatively starting to show themselves in the economy.

Derwent Living was also looking forward as its new business plan was shared with staff mapping out its main priorities until the end of 2014. The plan focused on achieving excellence in all Derwent’s organisations and services, developing the role of commercial activities to finance core activities and providing more new affordable homes.

Interactive focus Derwent Living continued to develop its interaction with existing and potential customers. Derwent Life, the quarterly printed magazine, was given a face lift with a more refreshing style. The website, derwentliving.com was given a simplified layout, being designed to navigate anywhere on the site in no more than three clicks. Subsequently, two more improvements were made to Derwent’s online interactive services.

71

Getting social... Derwent Living is a dynamic, forward-thinking organisation. They’re proud of the work they do, so focusing on keeping customers, colleagues, suppliers, stakeholders and sector peer groups informed is important. Social media is the obvious, up-to-the minute way to do this, so regular ‘tweets’ on Twitter and posts on Facebook are followed by, literally, thousands of people. Derwent Living’s Twitter feed is followed by around 4,000 people. It’s Facebook fan page has around 550 ‘Likes’. Steve Atkin, marketing and digital media manager said in 2013: “We’re pleased that whatever we’re doing, lots of people seem to want to know about it, and we’re determined to consolidate our success with more initiatives, more social media followers, and ultimately, more satisfied customers.”


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

The creation of MY Derwent Living enabled customers to pay their rent, log repairs or have their say in an online forum. Customers could track repairs, whilst applicants for housing would be able to arrange viewings of any chosen property. In a further initiative, Derwent Living became one of the first affordable housing providers in the Midlands to provide an app allowing smart phone and tablet users to access a full range of information and services.

Big Day Out

Pictured: Top: Mobile community manager Louise Fallon. Above: involved customer Joan Lonnon at the Big Day Out, 2012. Right: Children got to play on a giant Scalextric at the Big Day Out.

Whilst the country was hanging out the bunting and enjoying the celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in the summer of 2012, Derwent Living was staging its own ‘Big Day Out’ for all the family. More than 200 people turned out for the event at the Roundhouse

72

in Derby to take part in a series of fun events while taking the chance to find out more about how they could get involved in shaping and delivering services.


2010s

Pictured: Left: Customers having their say at the Forum. The Forum takes place every two months and features presentations from Derwent Living colleagues on key business topics.

There were great prizes up for grabs, food and entertainment, and the chance for people to have their say on Derwent Living’s services in a ‘Big Brother’ style video booth.

spoke with more than 200 people to inform and advise them about the benefit changes.

Advice on the road

Giving customers a voice in helping to shape services has been another key factor in Derwent Living’s successful development. In September 2012 it launched ‘The Forum’ to bring together customers from a range of different panels.

A key part of Derwent’s role over the years has been to advise their customers in response to changes in government policy and its effect on those customers’ day-to-day lives.

Forum for debate

The Big Day Out brought a pledge from chairman Suzy Brain England that Derwent Living would do all that it could to contact those customers most likely to be affected by government policy changes.

The Forum meets every two months to discuss topical issues and to vote on decisions, helping to shape services going forward.

A few months later, Derwent Living took to the road to visit customers including those likely to be affected by the introduction of the controversial ‘bedroom tax’. They devised a ‘Bedroom Tax Calculator’ so customers could work out any possible impact to their circumstances.

Whilst the British weather did its best to rain on Her Majesty’s parade by putting a dampener on some of the major Golden Jubilee events including the Thames flotilla, nothing could stifle the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the London 2012 Olympics.

Using a large American style camper van, acting as their office for a week, staff visited 18 different areas and

Going for gold

A sporting nation embraced the games beyond the wildest expectations of those who had

73

worked so hard to bring them back to the UK for the first time in more than 60 years. Stars like Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Chris Hoy had millions of viewers on the edge of their seats and jumping for joy at their exploits. And if they captured the spirit of the Olympics, then, at the same time, the unique spirit of co-operation and customer involvement throughout Derwent Living was about to be recognised with its own ‘golden moment.’

Scrutiny recognised In August 2012, the Derwent Living Resident Scrutiny Team took its own step on to the top of the podium when it gained a Gold Award from the East Midlands Tenant Participation Forum. The scrutiny team is a skilled and dedicated group of residents who analyse and monitor Derwent’s services. The team helps to ensure that objectives are met and services are shaped around the needs of customers.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

The award recognised the team of nine customers’ best practice. The chair, Dave Underwood, said he was “very proud” of what it had achieved.

Training schedule Underpinning the success of the Derwent Living team was the level of training provided with all members having completed a 15-week Chartered Institute of Housing level 2 course.

Attention to detail Some of the world’s finest scientific minds were finally bringing years of dedicated work and research to a successful conclusion in late 2012. Deep beneath a hill near Geneva, Switzerland, the so-called Large Hadron Collider was on the verge of proving the existence of the HiggsBoson particle, helping to address some of the great unsolved questions of physics. While the finer points of the project may have been beyond most of us there was no doubting the dedication and attention to detail that had been required by all those working on it to bring about success.

Derwent Living also recognise the importance of attention to detail and the need to react quickly and efficiently when things go wrong or the unexpected happens. In 2012 the organisation took important steps to ensure customers could live safely in their homes with repairs being reliably carried out in a timely manner.

Maintaining standards Derwent Living moved to ensure it was providing the best possible repairs service for customers by appointing Liberty Maintenance to carry out day-to-day repairs to its affordable housing stock. This included repairs to empty properties. After a stringent tender process Liberty was selected for its excellent record in the delivery of responsive repairs, void refurbishments and minor works predominantly to social and specialist housing as well as health service providers. This followed the appointment of Derby-based Vinshire Plumbing and Heating Limited for all Derwent Living’s gas servicing and repairs.

74

Pictured: Top left: Assistant Director Emma-Kate Fletcher at the Forum. Top right: The resident scrutiny team pictured in 2013. Above middle: Former scrutiny team member Michael Mudzamiri receiving his CIH qualification in 2012. Right: Shaking hands on the new Vinshire contract.


2010s

75


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

These services, and others, soon came under unique scrutiny through a special project carried out by Derwent Living in October 2012.

Spot checks Service Spot Checkers used a group of customer volunteers to gather feedback on Derwent Living’s services. Their first task saw the volunteers contacting other customers to gain feedback on a recent repair that had been carried out. Pictured: Top: Winning the LABC Warranty Social Housing Development of the Year Award for Wood Street , Church Gresley. Above: Derwent Living and Miller Homes receiving the NHBC Pride in the Job award in 2012. Right: Children holding ‘No Cuts’ placards at a bedroom tax rally.

Of the 43 customers contacted in just one morning, 95% said they were satisfied with the service provided and results and comments were fed back to the asset management team and Liberty. The volunteers were impressed with the feedback they were receiving first hand and the fact that it was one customer speaking to another had meant more honest opinions were given.

76

High expectations The year 2012 had been one where remarkable individual feats had been honoured – whether it was the supreme athleticism of the Olympians or the enduring devotion to duty of the Queen.


2010s

Pictured: Resident involvement manager Mitch Allseybrook uses Derwent Living’s ‘bedroom tax’ calculator to find out if a customer’s benefit entitlement will be affected.

But the world held its collective breath when a previously unknown Austrian, Skydiver Felix Baumgartner, became the first to break through the sound barrier in free-fall when he leapt from a balloon 24 miles above New Mexico, the highest and fastest ever recorded sky dive. However, with their feet firmly on the ground, Derwent Living continued to develop its business and was to pick up another prestigious award before the end of 2012.

Top honour Derwent Living was awarded the LABC Warranty Social Housing Development of the Year honour for its Wood Street scheme at Church Gresley on the outskirts of Swadlincote, Derbyshire. The 15 properties in the scheme of two and three-bedroom houses consisted of 12 for affordable rent and three for shared ownership. The scheme was developed in collaboration with South Derbyshire District Council to address a shortfall of affordable housing in an area of

growing population and demand for family accommodation.

Future investment In May 2012, despite prolonged global economic struggles, a record auction price of $142 million was paid for a set of three Francis Bacon portraits of Lucien Freud. Despite this backdrop of fiscal excess, Derwent Living was busy evaluating astute financial strategies for the different elements of its own business as it looked to the future.

Building on strengths Increased pressure and restraints on public funding led to a reorganisation of Derwent’s retirement living services and the reluctant closure of the domestic violence refuge Rebecca Court. But the start of 2013 saw a more positive landmark as a £6 million transfer deal took Derwent Living’s total number of properties to more than 15,000. Expansion included the purchase of 111 properties from Metropolitan,

77

a leading provider of integrated housing services. The stock included 51 social rented homes in the Derbyshire Dales and 60 social rented homes in Bolsover.

A taxing issue Derwent Living worked hard leading up to the April 2013 benefit changes, to try to alleviate the impact on its residents. Anyone deemed to have a ‘spare bedroom’ in their council or housing association home would see a cut in benefit. This ‘bedroom tax’ affected more than 700 Derwent customers, who were judged by the government to have more bedrooms than they needed. Derwent employed three debt prevention assistants to help customers deal with these changes in a bid to avoid rent arrears building up. It prioritised transfer applications from those affected wanting to move to smaller properties and also promoted ‘Home Swapper’, a national mutual exchange programme. This


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

saw a 20% increase in registrations following the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’.

National recognition The reputation established by Derwent Living continues to be reinforced by nominations and successes in regional and national business awards. There was success for one of its most recent developments when the Oxcroft Lane scheme in Bolsover was included in Inside Housing’s Top 50 UK Affordable Housing Developments of 2013. This redevelopment of 20 defective bungalows to create 15 new bungalows and 20 new houses involved temporary rehousing of existing residents and the demolition of some homes. It was praised by judges who were looking for affordable and social housing projects that really stood out.

Digital success This year, Derwent Living won the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) award for excellence in digital engagement for its breadth of innovative digital

involvement options. These include its secure interactive site MY Derwent Living, an App for smartphones and tablets, a fully mobile optimised website and effective use of social media. MY Derwent Living and the app enable customers to manage their accounts and tenancies, and get involved at times and in ways that suit them. Its tenant-led scrutiny was also praised in this year’s TPAS awards.

Government funding Another landmark moment in 2013 was Derwent winning first time funding through the Government’s Affordable Homes Scheme. It secured more than £1 million to build 60 new homes in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in areas where there is a shortage of good quality housing. The 18 homes in Barnby Gate, Newark and 42 in Shirland will bring in-demand one-bedroom properties to the social housing market (six in Newark and eight in Shirland) – these have become increasingly popular since the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ as they avoid

78

Pictured: Above: Harriet Phillipson, Mitch Allseybrook and Steve Atkin receive the TPAS regional award for digital engagement.


2010s Pictured: Far Left: Long-serving apprentices-now-colleagues Zack Seals and Ruth Chisnall. Left: Harriet Phillipson and Rachel Shaw at a Home Swapper event. Right: The opening of the games area at Ruston Way. Below: Chambers Court at Gainsford Close, shortly after opening.

the issue of having to make up a shortfall from reduced benefits for having a spare bedroom. The homes will be completed before March 2017 and are in addition to the 650 new affordable homes being provided as part of Derwent Living’s current business plan.

Creating employment Each new development not only strengthens Derwent Living’s business but can also create direct and indirect job opportunities. Over the last decade Derwent Living has provided training and employment opportunities for apprentices. Some of them have come from families living in the organisation’s properties and have gone on to sustain successful

permanent roles within the company. Former apprentice Ruth Chisnall this year celebrates her 12th anniversary with Derwent Living while colleague Zack Seals marks ten years as a staff member. Derwent Living also works closely with its main contractors to create apprenticeship opportunities for young people living in its operating area.

Community involvement Derwent Living is committed to delivering high quality homes which meet the needs of the community. The Gainsford Close scheme in Bestwood, Nottingham was one such project built in 2013. The new development of 38 bungalows for people aged over 55 was a partnership between Nottingham City Council, Westleigh Developments Ltd. and Derwent Living, which will manage the properties, helping to regenerate

79

Courting success In April of 2014, a £60,000 play area was installed by Derwent Living and Westleigh Developments at Ruston Way in Lincoln. The scheme, which provides 200 houses and flats is a stone’s throw from the city’s Brayford Pool area with access to shops, restaurants and bars as well as job opportunities in the city centre. The state-of-the-art games area was constructed between the residential properties and the newly completed accommodation for students at Saul House. A special opening took place in the Easter bank holiday which saw volunteers from Derwent Living run football and basketball coaching sessions for local children.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

an area where there is a need for affordable housing. To reflect the strong community links, a cul-de-sac within the development has been named Chambers Court in memory of a committed community volunteer Pat Chambers, who died in 2012.

An amazing journey

Pictured: Top: Suzy Brain England with the Chambers family at the opening of Gainsford Close in 2013. Above: Customer Adelle Ratcliffe with son Max at their new home in Ashbourne. Right: Derwent Living’s headquarters on Pride Park. Far right: No. 8 The Strand, The Derwent Housing Association‘s first office, now a newsagent.

Derwent Living has come a long way since it was formed as The Derwent Housing Association in May 1964. From a small, parochial concern employing just a handful of people out of a small office in The Strand, Derby, it has become a major provider of housing in the Midlands. It has continually shifted and diversified its business over the years, looking at bringing its skills to bear in different sectors. Now employing around 750 colleagues across its group, Derwent Living manages more than 25,000

80

properties across the UK with new developments as far north as Glasgow. Derwent Living’s 50th anniversary year may be coming to an end as this book is published, but the business will continue to innovate and adapt far into the future.


2010s

81


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

82


2014

A half-century of change and a look to the future With Derwent Living’s golden anniversary year fast-approaching, there was a general consensus that it needed to be marked in a significant way. Half a decade of providing housing was not going to go by without notice, so the planning began.

83

It was decided that because there was very little known about the company’s beginnings, a book would be written and a film produced to chronicle Derwent Living’s inception and subsequent years. Birthdays are made special by those they are shared with and it was agreed that Derwent Living should also celebrate its birthday with those who had made the company what it is, past and present. This included two major events; a fun day for current colleagues and a corporate event to be held at Derby Theatre.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

It didn’t take long to form a committee to run the planning of the staff event. Members of teams from across the business started fielding ideas about what the event should be and it was decided that a fun day of activities for staff and their families would be a great way to reward colleagues for their hard work and commitment to the business. But no-one at Derwent Living likes to miss out on the opportunity to dress up, so a separate day of silliness was arranged whereby staff would be encouraged to dress in 1960’s themed outfits and decorate their work stations with anything associated with the decade in which Derwent Living was formed.

Fancy dress & football The 1960s themed fancy dress competition, won by Brenda Kirk of the accounts department and a celebratory football match between teams of colleagues, helped to raise funds for charity. In fact, someone suggested that some of the money should be donated to the football match referee to purchase glasses, as he’d evidently missed the best parts of a good game!

In total over £300 was raised for good causes, the amount was split three ways between the Royal British Legion, Treetops Hospice and Derventio Housing, a housing trust that supports people who are homeless and vulnerable. A £100 lump sum was also donated by Derby-based aero-engine manufacturer Rolls Royce.

Derwent Living at 50 website At the beginning of 2014 Derwent Living’s marketing team worked hard with local researchers and other agencies to produce a comprehensive online exhibition website, outlining the history of Derwent Living since 1964. Derwentlivingat50.com contains a rich outline of quotes, archival news images and historical analysis, which comprises a fascinating online journey.

50th Anniversary roadshows In the final week of July 2014, the resident involvement team went out and about visiting schemes across the Midlands on a special roadshow to celebrate the 50th anniversary

84

Pictured: Right: Derwent Living’s 50th anniversary website.


2014 Pictured: Far left: Colleagues and children at the staff celebration. Left: The fiercely contested football game at the staff celebration. Below left: Group accountant Matt Rickards dressed as a Thunderbird as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Right: Peter McCormack and Rachel Matthews at the Dancing Duck brewery.

year. They hired a restored classic Volkswagen camper van, driving to various locations across the region; from the oldest property currently owned by Derwent Living, located in Rugby Avenue, Alfreton, to the most recent construction, one of 36 homes at Chewton Street in Eastwood. The team, all dressed in 1960s gear, were using the VW camper van as a highly visible ‘hippie’ icon, attracting the attention of customers, then giving out information on how to get more involved with Derwent’s initiatives and activities, while also relating a brief history of the organisation for anyone interested to learn more. The beatniks were busy promoting Derwent Living’s online customer portal, my.derwentliving.com , a website that enables customers to make payments online, report

and track repairs, give confidential feedback and join in a lively customer discussion forum. In a futuristic time warp for the camper van crew, they were also promoting the smartphone app, which had been downloaded over 2000 times, making it one of the most popular apps launched by a housing provider. It allows customers to make payments, report repairs, request services, look at available properties and get more involved. Mitch Allseybrook, resident involvement manager at Derwent Living, said: “The aim of the roadshow was to get us out and about visiting a wide selection of our schemes over the course of the week. “We wanted to talk to customers and see how we can help them get more involved as well as talk about the organisation’s history. With such nice weather and an eye-catching 60s camper van, lots of residents turned out and we got a lot of positive feedback.”

85

Raising a glass Local brewery Dancing Duck helped Derwent to celebrate its 50th anniversary by creating a special beer, ‘Derwent 1964’. The brewery’s owner, Rachel Matthews, once worked at Derwent Living and she was extremely keen to be involved with the celebrations. It was felt to be especially important for a local brewery to be producing the commemorative ale, which was available on draught from mid-October 2014 at the ‘New Zealand Arms’ in Derby. Collection tins placed on the New Zealand’s bar raised funds for Derbyshire charity Derventio Housing Trust, which helps provide support for the homeless and vulnerable.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Goodie bags were given to everyone that came out to see the team and, as an added incentive for customers to give input and feedback, there were £50.00 worth of shopping vouchers to be won for anyone contributing ideas for improvements that Derwent Living could make to its services.

Marking the anniversary With all of the preparations in full swing for the 50th anniversary year, it was decided that Derwent Living needed to mark its milestone with something memorable. So, along with a book to chronicle the history of the association, production of a documentary film began. Skeleton Productions, based in Nottingham, were chosen to bring the film to life. They took to the streets, shooting locations such as Derwent Living’s scheme at Cavendish Court in Derby and the company’s old office building at The Strand. Interviews with John Martin, Peter McCormack and Suzy Brain England were filmed in late September 2014, as well as involved residents Joan Lonnon, Bob Bhogal and Steven Millward. By October this year, the movie really came into its own.

Action on anti-social behaviour Derwent Living is always looking to improve its services, so whilst building new, affordable homes is important, it’s equally important to continue providing high quality services for existing customers. Derwent Living strives to provide a safe environment for those living in its properties, so investing in resources to help reduce anti-social behaviour on schemes is helping to foster a better relationship with customers. In March, a new cross-cutting mediation team was established to help resolve disputes between neighbours. The mediation team, which is made up of six customers and six colleagues began handling cases in May. When the call went out for volunteers, resident involvement manager Mitch Allseybrook didn’t know what to expect, and was delighted when Derwent Living received 68 applications and expressions of interest. “We were staggered by the number of people who were interested when we decided to start providing

86

Above: Debt prevention assistant Marcia Johnson helps a customer affected by the bedroom tax.


2014 Pictured: Far left: Involved customer Steven Millward at the Forum. Left: Pauline Bettney and partner Darren Spencer enjoying a new Derwent Living home in Middleton. Right: Colleagues from Derwent Living, Westleigh and Broxtowe Borough Council in front of new homes in Eastwood.

our own service. We were able to be highly selective in choosing the final twelve. The team we’ve got has a fantastic range of skills and life experiences and we believe customers will greatly value the service they provide.”

Welfare changes The Government’s welfare reforms of the last few years were met with mixed reviews, but attracted particular anger when the creation of the ‘spare room subsidy’ was announced, which soon became colloquially known as the Bedroom Tax.’ The initial testing phase of the launch of ’Universal Credit’ began in April 2014 as a way of replacing six different means-tested benefit payments with one, single payment and is due to rolled on a nationwide basis in 2015. Under the new system, payments for rent that were previously paid directly to landlords by local authorities, will now be paid over to customers to manage directly. This will present a huge challenge for Derwent Living, which has very many customers who will eventually be affected by these changes.

In order to minimise the impact of the welfare reforms, Derwent Living has been actively informing people about how they would be affected by the welfare system changes.

Derwent Community Housing Association It was decided that Derwent Living could further still fulfill its remit as a ‘profit for social purpose’ business, so in June 2014 a small, charitable subsidiary of Derwent Living was formed. Derwent Community Housing Association (DCHA) was created as a way of generating more funds to use on the building of new affordable homes. Derwent Living gifts properties to the charity which will then be let to customers directly through DCHA. Some of the first buildings gifted to DCHA were Millicent Mews (formerly Rebecca Court) and Shirland School, a development of 36 affordable rent and six shared

87

Building for the future Derwent Living still has ambitious plans to develop new affordable homes. It is aiming to build hundreds more in the next three years, which will be sorely needed whilst increasing house prices continue to prevent first-time buyers from stepping onto the first rung of the property ladder. It’s estimated that 200,000 new, affordable homes have been built across the UK since 2010. But cuts to local government spending have hit planning and housing hard, so Derwent Living must continue to generate profit through its commercial ventures in order to support the development of its social purpose: to build more affordable housing for those who need it most.


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

ownership properties. Some funds have already been allocated to the renovation of the properties at Millicent Mews, which will be transformed into self-contained flats, with work expected to complete in either late 2014 or early 2015. DCHA plans to build at least 200 homes over the next four years.

Set for the future Responsive, dynamic and pro-active since 1964, the management and staff at Derwent Living have had to respond to prevailing socio-economic policies that have been incepted by a series of politically changing government administrations. We’ve seen how changes such as the tenant’s ‘right to buy’ their previously councilowned homes dropped a windfall into the hands of one generation of tenants, but left the legacy of a dearth of social housing provision for subsequent generations. Rising house prices, global ‘boom and bust’ economies and a cut in ‘real world’ salaries (i.e. salaries not uniformly rising with the cost of living) have all conspired to make

it more difficult for people to buy their own homes. Added to these obstacles, the housing crisis has been exacerbated by cultural and demographic changes: for example the decline of the nuclear family, which means that many more people live alone or as single parents. The general longevity of the population is also increasing, bringing a demand for more sheltered accommodation and retirement villages. Accordingly, the simple fact remains that, as time advances, more physical structures will be required, even if they are smaller types of properties. It is the job of Derwent Living’s management team to try and foresee trends before they happen, and to respond promptly to changes in government legislation. They do this by keeping their finger on the pulse of the housing sector; by listening to their customers, liaising and collaborating with other relevant organisations, whilst keeping in mind the central focus: “To be an excellent provider of affordable housing... a private body with a social purpose.”

88

Pictured: Top left: The customer service team celebrate the 50th anniversary. Top right: Treasury manager Sarah Sturmey gets into the spirit of the 1960s. Above: Suzy Brain England and Peter McCormack at Centro Place with a special 50th anniversary cake. Right: Peter McCormack with colleagues outside Centro Place, 2014.


2014

89


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Derwent Living’s 50th anniversary:

Telling our story

When we first started talking about producing this book, we didn’t know what we’d be able to find out about the very early days of our organisation. Unfortunately almost all of the very early history had been lost during office moves and changes to teams meant documents and photographs had been destroyed or misplaced. Talking to former Derwent Living colleagues we were able to trace our history back to around 1979, but we still had 15 years of activity which we didn’t have full background for. We wanted to go all the way back to 1964, and if possible before that in the years leading up to the formation of the organisation. Archive information on the internet was very limited and much of it was incomplete. Many records and details of housing associations from the early 1960s is nonexistent on today’s web and searches for early Derwent Housing developments turned up nothing. Pictured: Above top: The 24 Iron Gate offices as they look today.

Fortunately, the local studies library, next door to the former Derwent Housing Society offices

90

on Iron Gate, was to prove instrumental in helping us to find out what happened in those formative years. The newspaper archive at the library is one of those hidden gems, run by people who genuinely care about the work that they are doing and the stories they are preserving. Without that archive, this book would not have happened and much of the Derwent Living story would have been lost forever. I encourage anyone who has an interest in local history to take a trip down there and have a look. At first we had very little to go on. We had managed to locate the first ever registration and rule book, which we’d found in a small, dusty box hidden at the back of a shelf at our off-site storage facility, but had no other real documentation from the time. Using this as a starting point we ran the names through the library’s index system, and a picture of the early days quickly began to emerge.


T E L L I N G O U R S TO R Y Pictured: Left: Marketing and digital media manager Steve Atkin with some of the research materials that the team uncovered.

The real watershed moment came when we discovered an article about the formation of the association. It covered the reasons why it had been created, the hopes of the founding members and how the business would operate on a day-to-day basis in the future. Names mentioned in the articles we found led to other avenues of investigation. This combined with additional research conducted using the internet, helped us to paint a full picture of the formation and early days of the organisation, a story that had been lost for almost half a century. At one point the marketing team desk area at Centro Place resembled a police incident room, strewn with incomplete timelines, unfollowed leads and archive documents. The team had done an unbelievable job to find what we had, but there was more work to do to complete the narrative. We followed our founding members for as long we could trace them, through newspaper articles, births, marriages and death records and via people who knew them at the time. I was invited onto BBC

Radio Derby to do a live broadcast with Andy Potter, and we also ran a media campaign to try and find more people who were involved with the business in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

passion for the story, we wouldn’t have been able to have done our long and fascinating history justice. I thank them immensely for their hard work and for putting up with me!

We were fortunate that Sue Baker, who worked with Thompson & Partners from 1973 and later for Derwent Housing Society saw our appeal and came forward. I was able to share all our research with Sue, checking facts and prompting memories, which created new investigatory leads. We took the new names and pieces of information back to the library and discovered fresh pictures and news stories.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our story as much as we have enjoyed bringing it to you. If you haven’t already, please let us know what you think of this book and our online exhibition by using the Twitter hash tag #derwentlivingat50.

The research for this book and the associated website and documentary took around seven months, with writing, proofing and fact checking taking a further three to four. The project has been rewarding, moving, infuriating and exhausting in equal measure, but every time we hit a dead end we managed to plough on through. We are delighted in what we have been able to achieve, and without the tenacity of the team and their

91

Steve Atkin Marketing and digital media manager


50 Y E A R S O F D E R W E N T L I V I N G

Picture credits P10. Queen Victoria Hulton Archive/ Stringer. P10. Slum housing in Providence Place, London, 1909. Copyright: © London Metropolitan Archives. P11. Pioneers Picture supplied by National Co-operative Creative Commons Archive Attribution 3.0. P12. General Strike 1926 - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. P12. “Chateau Wood Ypres 1917” by Frank Hurley. P12. Ramsey MacDonald George Grantham Bain collection. P11. “Interior of Magnolia Cotton Mills spinning room. See the little ones scattered through the mill. All work. Magnolia. - NARA - 523307” by Lewis Hine. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. P14 .“The Beatles in America” by United Press International, photographer unknown. P16. Geoff Hurst with the Jules Remit trophy, courtesy of Press Association. P17. “Trolley bus” by Alan Murray-Rust From geograph.org.uk. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. P17. “Matlock Station Down freight geograph-2775708-by-Ben-Brooksbank” by Ben Brooksbank - From geograph.org. uk. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons. P17. Harold Wilson gives a press conference after talks in The Hague. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands license. P18. Derby Cornmarket - Courtesy of R E Pearson and www.picturethepast.org.uk P19. Sam Morrison portrait, courtesy of Morrison Design Ltd.

P20. “Heathdod” by Frank Hall - http:// www.dodmedia.osd.mil/Assets/1985/ DoD/DD-SN-85-09955.JPEG. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

P38. “Friends season one cast”. Via Wikipedia.

P20. Brian Clough at Derby County, courtesy of Press Association.

P47. ”Adele - Live 2009 (4) cropped” CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK derivative work: Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

P21. 24 Iron Gate Courtesy of Derby City Council and www.picturethepast.org.uk P22. “The Jacksons 1977” by CBS Television - eBay itemphoto frontphoto back. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. P22. Ford Cortina AttributionNonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. P27. Mini being pushed into filling station, courtesy of Press Association. P29. Derby from London Road. Picture copyright © Ian Turner and courtesy of www.picturethepast.org.uk P30. “Michael Jackson 1984” by White House Photo Office - National Archives and Records Administration (ARC Identifier: 198548). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons. P34. Miners Strike March 30yrs on Rotherham Silverwood Pit - Attribution 2.0 Generic - www.flickr.com/photos/ chrisfp/ P34. “Margaret Thatcher (1983)” by Rob Bogaerts / Anefo - Nationaal Archief. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-nl via Wikimedia Commons. P35. “Grand-Hotel-Following-BombAttack-1984-10-12” by D4444n at en.wikipedia. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. P35. “Argentine POWs guarded by 2 Para” by Kenneth Ian Griffiths (Griffiths911 at en.wikipedia) Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

92

P41. Norman Lamont in front of H.M. Treasury, courtesy of Press Association.

P48. Tavistock Square bus bombing, courtesy of Press Association. P62. Large Hadron Collider, courtesy of CERN. P64. “London - The Parliament - 2779” by Jorge Royan - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons AttributionShare Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. P65. European parliamentary elections, Thursday 4 June 2009. Polling station in school in Southwark, London, UK. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic. P76. Children at Bedroom Tax demonstration, courtesy of Press Association. All other images have been sourced from Derwent Living’s archive, IStockphoto or supplied with permission from John Martin, Sue Baker or the family of Eric Naylor.


P I C T U R E C R E D I T S & AC K N O W L E D G E M E N T S

Acknowledgements A huge thank you to all Derwent Living colleagues, Ken Loach, John Martin, Sue Baker, the family of Eric Naylor, Michael Futers, Liz Cartwright, Nadia Rizk-McCay, Helen Andrews, Nick Tomlinson at Picture the Past, David Hartland at Morrison Design Ltd, Ann Cattrall at Sixteen Films, Rachel Matthews at Dancing Duck Brewery, Dave Stones at Stirland Paterson, Andy Potter at BBC Radio Derby. Special thanks to: Derby Local Studies Library 25b Irongate Derby DE1 3GL Without their support, research and memories this book would not have been possible.

93


This is our story What began as a small co-operative housing society grew into one of the biggest providers of affordable homes in the Midlands. ‘50 years of Derwent Living’ relives those early days, and charts the journey of the sector and organisation from the testing social and economic upheaval of the late 20th century to post-recession Britain. It also looks at where the organisation is heading as it prepares to write the next chapter in its history.

Derwent Living | No. 1 Centro Place Pride Park | Derby | DE24 8RF t. 01332 346 477 | e: info@derwentliving.com w: www.derwentlivingat50.com Printed on recycled paper

Derwent living at 50  

What began as a small co-operative housing society grew into one of the biggest providers of affordable homes in the Midlands. ‘50 years of...

Advertisement