Aster Group to build over 100 community partnership homes

Housing association Aster Group will build at least 105 new homes through community-led developments in the next three years.

The group has been named as the registered provider to seven community land trusts (CLTs), organisations set up by local people to build and manage housing projects in their areas. Each CLT will build between 10 and 30 homes available for social and affordable rent across the south of England.

Aster is one of the most active CLT developers in the sector, with more than 110 homes across 10 completed schemes.

Aster, which built 1,156 homes in the year to the end of March 2019, operates a mixed delivery model. This approach sees it build housing via section 106 agreements, joint ventures and its own land-led schemes alongside a growing focus on community-led projects.

Amanda Williams, group development director at Aster Group, said: “The housing challenge we face as a nation is incredibly complex and cannot be addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach. We see community-led development becoming an increasingly important part of the delivery mix required as it can accommodate very specific, localised needs more effectively than most other development methods.

“Community land trusts are owned by the people the homes are being built for so they put their needs at the heart of the project. Local support makes them incredibly effective at getting projects off the ground where other methods run into opposition.

“The community element is also an important aspect for the stakeholders who need to be brought onboard to unlock land and secure planning permission.”

Among the seven schemes included in the programme is a 23-home development in Eastington, near Stroud, in Gloucestershire. Work started on the project in November 2019 and is due to complete by Autumn 2020.

Tom Morrison, Chair of Eastington CLT, said: “Aster has been a fantastic partner to work with on the delivery of the Puddleworth Close scheme. The team has been supportive throughout and really took on board what we were trying to achieve in terms of providing homes that would not only add to but enhance the existing affordable housing provision in our community. I have been impressed with how quickly the build has progressed since Aster took ownership of the site in October last year and look forward to welcoming the new residents of these much-needed homes towards the end of this year.”

Aster, which recently appointed former housing ombudsman Mike Biles as non-executive chairman, posted turnover of £212m in the year-ending 31st March 2019 (up from £205m in 2018). It also announced one of its largest ever years of estate investment in which it will invest £55m on improvements to its existing portfolio.