LOOKING out across the town, it’s fair to say that Housing Hartlepool has had a significant impact on the communities and buildings which make up the fabric of the place.
Created in 2004 to take over the local authority housing stock of Hartlepool Borough Council, Housing Hartlepool became the town’s largest housing association, with responsibility for more than 7,000 homes after a ballot of tenants had overwhelmingly endorsed the transfer.
Since then, the organisation has thrived and grown, investing over £100m in the town, creating and securing hundreds of skilled jobs and ensuring thousands of families have high quality homes.
“Over the past 10 years, we have invested more than £119m in the town, we have significantly improved 7,000 homes and as part of the Vela Group we have built almost 1,000 new homes,” said Colin Wilson, Director of Development of the Vela Group, which incorporates Housing Hartlepool and Stockton-based housing association Tristar Homes.
“I think it’s fair to say Hartlepool would look very different if we’d never existed.”
The housing group’s first task was to improve the existing housing stock. Residents had been promised their homes would be brought up to a better standard, so the newly formed organisation was faced with a large and daunting task.
“Our priority was to raise standards to a better level than the Government regulations set out,” said Colin, who is set to retire this year after 35 years in the housing sector.
“We wanted to give tenants the highest standard of living that we possibly could and I think we achieved that. We put new heating systems, doors and windows into properties, before beginning to transform communal and outside areas.
“Over the last 10 years, we have invested more than £119 million in renovating housing stock, which we think is a pretty impressive figure.”
The housing group then turned its attention to areas of the town, which contained outdated housing badly in need of major renovation or demolition and replacement.
“There were two areas of the town where the housing market simply wasn’t functioning properly,” said Colin.
“We took the decision that in Easington Road and Belle Vue, much of the housing stock was very outdated and in need of total regeneration. We invested tens of millions and provided more than 500 new homes in these areas.
“As well as significantly improving 7,000 homes and building new ones to modernise Hartlepool’s housing, we have helped to boost Hartlepool’s private sector by using local suppliers, including Hartlepool-based building contractors Gus Robinson.
“In our first year, we created 50 new jobs and over the past decade we have created more than 80 apprenticeships for young people in trades, computing and business administration roles.
“When Housing Hartlepool joined with Tristar Homes to form the Vela Group in 2010, it allowed us to become bigger, better and achieve even more. In the past three years alone, the group has built 217 new homes in Hartlepool, investing £17m.
“We have also created developments outside of Hartlepool and Stockton, which are investments that help to fund the work we do in our core area.
“Now, we are investing £2m in Hartlepool’s first purpose built student accommodation, which is a fantastic mark of where the town is going and demonstrates how Housing Hartlepool has grown and diversified, yet is still remains completely committed to Hartlepool.”