BME associations hold early talks with City Hall over joint development vehicle

This article by David Blackman was published in “Social Housing” last week

“London-based black and minority ethnic housing associations have held talks with the Greater London Authority about creating a joint development vehicle to package up infill sites in the capital for new homes.The potential establishment of a development company is among the next steps being contemplated by BME London, which launched its business plan last week.

The attraction of establishing a joint vehicle is that the 14 associations collaborating in BME London could pool their skills and resources to deliver more homes than they could operating independently, said Gina Amoh, chair of the body.According to a progress report on the initiative, published last year, the 12 founding members of BME London had combined assets worth £1.2bn and were capable of delivering 2,100 homes.

Ms Amoh told Social Housing that BME London had held ‘early discussions’ with the GLA about setting up the new company, which could package up small and infill sites in London for development.Ms Amoh, who is also chief executive of the west London-based Inqilab housing association, said BME London would also consider entering into a partnership with large developing associations.

She said the body had already held early discussions with L&Q about potentially partnering on projects.Ms Amoh said that BME London was also exploring the potential for greater collaboration between its members on major repairs and maintenance.The body has also approached financial institutions to achieve better borrowing rates by working collaboratively.Speaking at the business plan’s launch, Julian Ashby, chair of the Social Housing Regulator, said: ‘For associations of this size, collaboration is a great way to increase your voice and capacity, whilst still retaining distinct identities.’

The 14 associations participating in BME London are Apna Ghar, Arhag, Bangla, Ekaya Odu Dua, North London Muslim, Imani Housing Co-op, Industrial Dwellings Society, Inquilab, Innisfree, Shian, Spitalfields, Tamil and Westway. The associations vary in size from 185 to 1,250 homes.

BME London has also co–founded, along with L&Q, Optivo and housing consultancy Altair, the Leadership 2025 programme, which is set to launch in autumn 2017. This sector-wide scheme, being run with Roffey Park Business School, is designed to tackle the under-representation of people from BME background in senior roles in housing association management.

Housing consultancy Altair helped set up BME London.”