The city council’s social housing division has become the Dérive Group, part of its journey towards becoming a registered provider, and named Robin Lawler and Greg Gottig as board members.
Lawler, chief executive of Northwards Housing in Manchester and a former new initiatives coordinator at Leeds City Council, will serve as independent chair of the new Dérive Group. He has 30 years’ experience in the housing sector.
Gottig has been appointed as an independent board member. He is chief executive of facilities services company Facilco and has served on the boards of housing associations Liverpool Mutual Homes and Torus for the past eight years.
The group plans to make further hires in the coming weeks and months, while it simultaneously progresses its application to become a registered social housing provider.
As a company wholly owned by the council, Dérive was delivering Salford City Council’s biggest programme of social housing developments in 50 years. The first 67 homes have been completed and work is on track to complete another 200 by next summer.
Gaining RP status would enable Dérive RP to operate as its own entity. Among other benefits, it would gain increased access to funding from public bodies such as Homes England.
Salford’s cabinet is expected to approve next week the submission of a detailed application to the government’s Regulator of Social Housing together with a business plan for the new company. Under the proposals it would borrow £8.48m and acquire 104 properties from the council across three sites from the council to help it get started.
The Dérive group’s intention is to focus on construction and delivery of homes for sale and private rent to fund affordable social housing, while one arm, Dérive RP, operates as a regulated housing association.
Dérive RP would deliver 129 homes for social rent across four sites between next January and August, according to the proposals.
Lawler and Gottig join other board members Salford deputy city mayors Cllr John Merry and Cllr Tracy Kelly, who have both led the council’s housing portfolio.
Lawler said now is a “formative time [for Dérive] and I look forward to helping the council achieve its ambitions for more affordable homes across Salford.
“The next key step is to secure registration with the Regulator for Social Housing. It is intended to submit our application in July.”
Merry added: “There is a national shortage of affordable housing in England and Salford City Council and its housing partners are determined to address that in our city.
“Dérive has evolved from buying homes off plan to rent out, to working with local housing associations to build new social homes, to constructing its own properties.
“Our aim now is to provide 3,000 high quality social, affordable and private (for rent or sale) homes across Salford using as many local suppliers and construction firms as possible to maximise social value.”
City council chief executive Tom Stannard told Place North West this week the 3,000-home target was to be achieved over the next decade.