Meet the team behind the scenes - Allocations and Development
Our 'Meet the team behind the scenes' series provides an insight into the people at Progress Housing Group who work hard to provide you with safe homes and communities and deliver our services.
We sat down with our Development Manager, Kerry, and our Allocations and Lettings Officer, Lisa, to find out a bit more about the affordable homes built by Oakmere Homes and available to rent and buy from Progress Housing Group on our new Strawberry Fields site.
We also found out how you can register for a new build affordable property to rent in a good area that’s local to you, and live safely and securely with a great quality of life for you and your family.
Meet our Development Manager, Kerry
Hi Kerry, thanks for meeting with us today.
Please could you tell us what your role is at Progress Housing Group and what you are responsible for within the Development Team?
I’m one of the Development Managers at Progress Housing Group and I’m responsible for the project management of new schemes from inception to completion.
You've recently completed handover of one of your new developments, Strawberry Fields. Can you tell us whereabouts it's located?
Our new Strawberry Fields site is located in Kendal, South Lakeland, Cumbria. It’s in the North of England and within walking distance of Oxenholme Train Station.
How many houses are being built at Strawberry Fields?
A total of 148 units over four phases are being built at Strawberry Fields. These include one, two, three and four bedroom homes, and are a mix of houses and apartments. The larger units are the open market sales for Oakmere Homes.
What type of properties are Progress Housing Group offering on the development?
A total of 49 units are being acquired by Progress Housing Group from Oakmere Homes. They are a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments, and two and three-bedroom houses for affordable rent, as required by the Section 106 agreement. We also have one and two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom houses available for shared ownership purchase on the Strawberry Fields site.
Kendal is a new area for Progress Housing Group isn’t it?
Yes, Kendal is within the South Lakeland area, which is one of the Group’s priority areas and it's within the Group’s Strategic Plan to increase our development output.
For tenants who are renting from, or buying a shared ownership property with, Progress Housing Group, can you tell us a little bit more about the Strawberry Fields site and its location?
The site is outside of the Lake District National Park but close to the many amenities of Kendal centre. The site is adjacent to open countryside and is a good commuter base, just a two minute walk from Oxenholme Railway Station which has West Coast Main Line links.
One of Progress Housing Group’s main aims is to provide good quality homes in neighbourhoods where people feel happy and safe to live and Strawberry Fields sounds like the perfect housing development in a beautiful location! What does it mean to families, individuals and couples looking to rent, or buy with shared ownership, that we are able to offer affordable housing on a development like Strawberry Fields?
The affordable housing being acquired by the Group means that local people and families are able to stay in Kendal whereas they may not have previously been able to due to the high property prices. The rented units have rents set lower than market rent and the shared ownership homes provide opportunities to acquire a property in stages - making it more affordable. The Section 106 agreement contains ‘local connections’ criteria which means that the units will be offered to people in the local area or who have connections in the local area.
So what’s next for Progress Housing Group’s housing and development portfolio? Where will Progress Housing Group have new properties available next?
Following the implementation of the Group’s Strategic Plan and Business Priorities 2019 – 2023, the Development Team aims to increase our activity to deliver more than 250 new homes per year by the end of the 2023 across the North West region. You can read about this in our annual report.
Find out how we allocate our properties with our Allocations and Lettings Officer, Lisa
Hi Lisa, thanks for meeting with us today. Please could you tell us what your role is at Progress Housing Group and what you are responsible for within the Allocations Team?
My name’s Lisa and I work as a Choice Based Lettings Officer within the Allocations Team at Progress Housing Group. As part of my role, I advertise properties that we have available, carry out viewings of properties and sign applicants up to tenancies. I help to match tenants to the most suitable properties for them.
What’s the process for the handover between a completed development like Strawberry Fields and our Allocations Team?
Once the Development Team is happy with the properties we then carry out viewings for people who have been shortlisted for the properties. If all the checks are OK and they are happy we then arrange to sign them up to the property.
What happens once a tenant has been found for a property? What paperwork and checks need to be completed to approve the property for a potential tenant?
A phone interview with the tenant will establish why the applicant wants to move, their current situation and to ensure the lettings criteria will be met. I also check that the property size will meet their needs and if they require any support to maintain their tenancy. From there I arrange for them to view the property and if they wish to go ahead I check evidence of the lettings criteria and request references from their current landlord.
So for people interested in properties like these new-build affordable rent homes at Strawberry Fields, how can people register their interest in living in one of them?
These new homes for rent have been built with planning permission that stipulates they have to be allocated to people who have a local connection to the area. We have to adhere to a whole list of criteria that could be classed as a connection but cannot offer properties outside of the local connection criteria.
How does Progress Housing Group advertise new build properties available for rent?
If the properties are in an area where we are a member of the Choice Based Lettings (CBL) system, then we advertise them through the CBL website. In other areas the local council may request nominations from themselves for tenants, or allow us to place adverts on their CBL system. We also advertise on Moving Soon and Rightmove, and occasionally on our own social media channels including Facebook and Twitter if we are trying to reach more people to match the local connection criteria.
How long before someone can move in to a new build rented property of ours like these?
Once the Allocations Team has received handover of the properties from our Development Team, new tenants can sometimes move into their new home as quickly as the next day.
Does Progress Housing Group provide tenancy support or other types of help to tenants living in rented properties once they’ve moved in?
Yes, tenants are asked before signing up to one of our properties if they are already receiving any current support or have any support needs. If people need assistance setting up their benefit claims, they are referred to, and supported by, our Financial Inclusion Team
Tenants also receive a new tenant visit from our housing officers at around six weeks to ensure they are happy in their new home and iron out any issues or repairs that may have arisen.
As a Lettings officer, you must have viewed a lot of homes! What benefits are there to renting a property from Progress Housing Group?
In my previous role as a support worker, I had many experiences of other housing association properties and I truly believe that the standard of our properties, old and new, exceed anything I have seen before. Progress Housing Group are so much more than a social landlord with the additional benefits for tenants that we offer such as Progress Futures and Furniture Matters.
How can people enquire about registering for a rented property with Progress Housing Group?
People wanting to rent a home or enquire about renting a property can visit our website at www.progressgroup.org.uk/rent-a-home/ and contact us via webchat or telephone on 03333 204555.
You can find out more about our new housing developments on our website.
For specific enquiries about renting a home with us, please contact us.
About the affordable rent and shared ownership properties available from Progress Housing Group at Strawberry Fields, Kendal
Strawberry Fields is one of our new sites in Kendal, built in partnership with local housing developer Oakmere Homes and South Lakeland District Council.
Progress Housing Group will welcome new tenants into their new homes in this beautiful part of the North of England over next few weeks and months.
In total, 49 houses and apartments are being acquired by Progress Housing Group on the Strawberry Fields development and are a mix of affordable rent and shared ownership properties. Find out more on our website here.