MORE THAN JUST NUMBERS WITH THE STRATEGIC AIM OF ‘BUILD AND MAINTAIN’
Carol McTaggart, Group Director of Development and Tony Giffen, Group Director of Assets
Having the right place to call home is at the core of our strategic aim - ‘build and maintain quality homes whilst preserving the environment’. We plan to improve how both our new and existing homes work for customers, helping them to flourish and live well.
Housing need in Northern Ireland is huge. Waiting lists are longer than we’ve seen in the last ten years and almost 30,000 people are deemed as being in housing stress – that’s either no place to call home or their home is unsuitable. Whilst it’s vital that Clanmil steps up to address this challenge by making more homes available, it’s not just about the numbers as Carol McTaggart explains:
“Homes are more than just a shelter. The homes we live in play an important role in shaping who we are and so it’s vital that any investment we make in new and existing homes has maximum impact in helping our customers to flourish and live well. This is both in terms of the actual home and how it can work better for customers through improved running costs and design. But it’s also about how we connect that home to the community, so people are proud of where they live.
“Some of the ways we can do that is by designing schemes that are safe and welcoming; introducing mixed tenures, creating new partnerships and developing more shared housing schemes that move communities beyond green and orange.”
The development team are already tackling this challenge head on with several initiatives that seek to go beyond bricks and mortar. Property partnerships where Clanmil provides homes, whilst the customer is supported by a charity are already underway. As is a programme to transform blighted neighbourhoods by bringing empty homes back into use. To date Clanmil has already brought 120 homes back into the rental market, but there’s an aspiration to do more across different tenures.
The team are also pushing the boundaries when it comes to energy efficiency as Carol adds: “All our new build homes are designed to have high thermal efficiency of SAP Rating B, helping to limit the fuel poverty that a lot of our customers face. However, through the life of this strategy we want to further challenge ourselves by analysing what it would mean to build homes to a maximum A SAP Rating in terms of specification and costs. We’re also taking part in a pilot called NZEB (Near Zero Energy Building) as we’re really serious about reducing our carbon footprint.”
Energy efficiency and reducing environment impact is also an area of focus for our existing homes as Tony Giffen explains: “We have identified the poorest performing properties in our housing stock from an energy perspective and we are now investing in our E, F and G rated properties to improve their performance and subsequent running costs for customers.Whilst there’s no legislation in NI on this, we have chosen to reflect the English regulations that all lettable properties should be a minimum rating D by 2025 and C by 2030. Within the next 10 years the existing energy systems within our homes may become obsolete and so we must look at what we need to do now.”
A new stock appraisal tool will also help us to target investment in our existing homes. Rather than basing investment decisions simply on age, the new tool will also consider factors such as environmental impact, how often the property becomes void and how the value of the home is performing to give us a more rounded picture of what’s going on. This clarity will also enable us to set out a three-to-five-year vision for customers so that we can be more transparent around our investment intentions.
Improving data and information is a reoccurring theme within the ‘build and maintain’ strategic aim. For existing homes, improved data will help support the customer experience through both improved visibility on the new online portal and via patch management groups, who will have access to information that will help them proactively manage issues and repairs at a local level. Whilst for new builds we are using information from the Housing Executive and market analysis to understand trends and demands to deliver homes that meet the greatest need.
When asking what colleagues can do to make this strategic aim a success, Carol and Tony agree: “We need to work collaboratively and seek out innovative solutions”. Tony also adds “We need to have human reactions. What I mean by that is although there might be a technical solution to an issue, what we need to think about is what would we want the experience to feel like if we were the customer and work together to make that happen.” Carol agrees: “The only way we can positively influence communities is through a Clanmil-wide approach, which sees all teams work together to create maximum benefit for our customers.”