A change of leadership for community housing services

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MM and WCA logos

Statement from Wessex Community Assets and Middlemarch LLP to our network of local authorities, registered providers, community groups, housing enablers, professional advisers and others.

Wessex Community Assets (WCA)[1] and Middlemarch LLP[2] have worked together for the last 10 years to deliver the Wessex CLT Project (WCLTP), a support service for community led housing (CLH) partnerships between CLTs and RPs[3].  The WCLTP has supported the construction of 200 community-led homes and has a further 500 in the pipeline. More recently, WCA received funding from Community Led Homes to develop a Dorset & Somerset enabling hub for community-led housing.

The board of WCA and Middlemarch LLP have jointly agreed that, with the WCLTP now well-established and the enabling hub needing ongoing support to ensure its future, the best option is to transfer responsibility for these activities to Middlemarch from the end of March 2021.  This will allow WCA to focus on its mission to support communities across Devon, Dorset and Somerset in building a regenerative economy rooted in common ownership.

This strategic change also aligns with Middlemarch’s purpose which is “To help establish a thriving community-led housing group in every community”.  Accordingly, Middlemarch is transferring its current activities to a new Community Interest Company – Middlemarch Community Led Housing CIC – to take forward the CLT Project and the Dorset & Somerset hub. The board of the CIC will comprise Alison Ward, Steve Watson (both executive directors), Fiona Bevan and Liz Maunder (both non-executive directors as well as being existing or former directors of WCA).

To summarise:

  • Middlemarch CIC will assume full responsibility for the WCLTP and the Dorset & Somerset hub from the start of April 2021. The Dorset & Somerset hub will therefore become part of Middlemarch CIC’s technical service. Action towards this has started with the creation of a Transition Team to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities.
  • Through the hub, Middlemarch CIC will provide support for the whole range of CLH models in Dorset, Somerset and the adjacent unitary of Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole. The trading name WCLTP will be discontinued.
  • Wherever they are located, CLTs currently being supported by the Wessex CLT Project will continue to be supported by the same advisers as at present: Alison Ward, Steve Watson and Jay Lambe. The hub’s adviser – Colin McDonald – will join Middlemarch’s team.
  • Because a) government support for hubs, and b) WCA’s service level agreements with local authorities all come to an end in March 2021[4], surpluses from Middlemarch’s programme of CLT/RP partnerships will be used to maintain both initiatives. A new Technical Adviser post will be restructured from two existing posts to ensure that the necessary skills and capacity are in place to do so.
  • This is an exciting opportunity for as many communities as possible in the sub-region to benefit from Middlemarch’s experience in delivering financially self-sustaining community housing services. In due course, as Middlemarch’s financial position becomes stronger and demand for community housing continues to grow, the intention is to expand the service, supporting a larger and even more diverse range of projects.

Please contact any of the following WCA and Middlemarch personnel if you have any questions:

WCA: Dominic Acland: dominic.acland@wessexca.co.uk

Middlemarch: Alison Ward and Steve Watson: alison.ward@middlemarchasscoaites.co.uk or alison.ward@wessexca.co.uk, and steve.watson@middlemarchassociates.co.uk or steve.watson@wessexca.co.uk

[1]https://wessexca.co.uk/about/team/

[2]https://middlemarchassociates.co.uk/who-we-are/

[3]https://www.dropbox.com/s/djq9cehhymz84da/Partnerships%20between%20Community%20Led%20Housing%20organisations%20and%20Registered%20Providers.v5.1.pdf?dl=0

[4]Hubs have all been encouraged to commit funds before the end of March 2021 and no announcement of the renewal of the Community Housing Fund has been made.