In 2015, to address the housing crisis in Telford & Wrekin, the local council set up a new wholly owned company called Nuplace to build and manage more than 400 private and affordable homes to rent - with impressive results. APSE Direct spoke to the Director of Nuplace, Katherine Kynaston, to learn more about the company.
With councils facing ever-decreasing budgets alongside everincreasing housing demand, Telford & Wrekin Council asked itself, 'what does our community need from us?’
In June 2015 the Council announced that it would set up a new wholly owned company to build and manage more than 400 private and affordable homes to rent.
The new housing solution would address housing needs in the borough and at the same time generate income and capital growth. The company was named Nuplace Ltd.
The principal activity of Nuplace is the procurement of the construction and management of private and affordable residential properties for rent.
The company aims to:
Nuplace is an innovative concept and the first wholly owned company set up by Telford & Wrekin Council - it has also attracted significant interest from other local authorities as a model for revenue generation and stimulating housing delivery.
Construction and delivery
Nuplace has forged an excellent professional working relationship with partner and building contractor Lovell Partnerships Ltd through openness and collaboration, and were shortlisted for one of the most prestigious housing awards in the industry.
To date Lovell and Nuplace have worked together to develop seven sites in the borough totalling 329 homes so far. These include a mix of two, three and four bedroom houses and apartments.
Telford & Wrekin Council identified a number of sites on which Nuplace could build a combination of two, three and four bedroomed homes not only to help provide local housing but also help transform communities visually, practically and economically.
The social value of these new homes goes far beyond providing families with a brilliant place to live.
Nuplace has a commitment to be a responsible landlord to its tenants, ensuring the journey from first enquiry to moving in is as smooth and trouble-free as possible.
This includes a commitment to being capable and confident in delivering its promises to tenants, a willingness to listen and to go the extra mile, being professional and knowledgeable while retaining an entrepreneurial streak and hearing and delivering on what tenants want.
The strength of the Nuplace brand continues to grow and the success of this approach is clear with comments from tenants including, “I can’t help but feel assured knowing that Nuplace is owned by the council. So far any issues I have had with it being a new build property have been sorted quickly for me.”
“We moved in back in May so we’ve enjoyed a lovely summer in the garden and now can’t wait for our first Christmas in our new home. We usually visit parents for Christmas and this year it will be my first time hosting in my own home and I can’t wait. I really feel like this is our forever home.”
The homes have been constructed in three phases, with tenants moving into the most recent development in Snedshill, Telford in February 2019. This was a site where all 39 units were pre-let within just one month when it was launched last year – including all 5 of our four bedroom properties which were reserved within a day.
With a waiting list of 90, as well attracting new interest, there are also an increasing number of existing Nuplace tenants who are choosing to move to other properties within Nuplace’s property portfolio – for example families upsizing to larger 3 and 4 bedroom homes.
Jonathan Rowe - Nuplace Director and Director of Customer, Neighbourhood and Wellbeing, said, “Nuplace is already an incredible success story that is delivering outcomes that far exceed original expectations.
“It is helping to regenerate those neighbourhoods which are in need and is working to ensure that local people have access to suitable housing.
“By raising the standard of rental provision across Telford, Nuplace is supporting the Council’s ambitious growth agenda resulting in major investment in the borough. It has guaranteed a long term income stream for the Council that is helping to protect frontline services in an extremely challenging financial environment for local government.”
Planning has recently been secured for a further two developments in the borough which will be announced in spring 2019.
Nuplace has delivered a cumulative profit before interest and taxation of £1.5m for the first 3 years of trading. The Council also benefits from additional Council Tax in addition to a New Homes Bonus as Nuplace properties.
Katherine gave a presentation on ‘Transforming the private rented sector in Telford and Wrekin’ at the APSE Central Region Seminar ‘Housing and Homelessness’ on 7 March 2019. The presentation is available to download here.