Happy 15th birthday to Preston's biggest social housing landlord
Preston's largest social housing landlord is celebrating 15 years since taking over the city's council house stock.
And Community Gateway Association is looking to the future as well as back with plans for more new homes to replace run-down estates.
Bosses at CGA say they are proud of the "remarkable" achievements they have made since taking on the job in 2005. But they are also determined to drive on to their ambition of providing more than 7,000 affordable homes by 2024.
The association says that with a recent major cash windfall of £95m from its first private investment and new developments coming on stream at Lightfoot Lane and Broughton Interchange in the near future, along with several more in the pipeline, the target looks set to be met and exceeded.
"It’s been a remarkable 15 years," said Rob Wakefield, CGA's chief executive.
"To be honest, I’ve never been prouder of everyone than this year when every member of staff has truly gone above and beyond to support our customers."
It was back in 2005 that Preston's council tenants were asked to vote on a new landlord taking over with ambitious plans to invest in the city's housing stock.
"Local people wanted more investment in homes and surrounding estates, an improved, more responsive repairs service, yet still at an affordable rent and the same rights and security they held as council tenants," said a CGA spokesperson.
"Preston Council simply did not have the money to spend the vast sums needed, But, by creating a new tenant-led housing association, that money could be brought into the city.
"It was down to the tenants themselves and they chose overwhelming to make the switch to that new landlord, Community Gateway Association, the first housing association in the UK to be based on the Gateway model which puts tenants at its heart."
Gill Lawson, founding board member of Community Gateway, who passed away last year, said at the time: “We would like every neighbourhood in Preston to be a place to be proud of, a place where people choose to live, where they are happy to bring up their children and to retire.
"The new housing association will be run under the Gateway principles and will bring in £80m to spend in a massive investment on bringing homes up to decent standard.”
Rob Wakefield added: "It’s the Gateway way to adapt and evolve to customer needs and we strive to be 'more than just a landlord.'
"Our firm belief is that tenants should drive the direction of the organisation – indeed our current chair of the board is a tenant in one of our sheltered schemes.
"It’s only by listening to our customers that we make sure we deliver the right services in a way that suits them.”