Warrington Housing Association has appointed its first ever Development Lead, Andrew Lewis. We asked him why the role has been taken in-house, what are WHA’s housing ambitions, and why Warrington is such a great place to live
Andrew Lewis took up the role of Development Lead at Warrington Housing Association just as the pandemic was taking off in spring.
The 54-year-old has a development management background in a number of housing associations, as well as construction and council roles.
He was brought on board to procure new development opportunities for WHA in accordance with its strategic plan, guaranteeing schemes complete to a high standard, on time and budget, and complement existing WHA housing stock
He has been tasked with monitoring the viability of future schemes and seeking to utilise WHA existing land assets to develop new build housing.
Andrew said: “Previously the role of Development Manager was carried out by external consultants. Taking the job in-house ensures quicker decision making, more succinct control and more effective cost management for WHA.”
That streamlining of the process will stand WHA in good stead as their ambitions including seeking to construct 200 new homes over the next five years
He said: “Warrington, as a local authority, is not meeting their identified target to provide affordable housing and WHA are striving to help bridge this gap with a new funding facility in place to support housing construction activity. Being able to access Homes England grant funding would help support WHA growth ambitions in future years.
“Warrington is a great place to live. It has fantastic connectivity to all localities throughout the north west and further afield, you could travel by train from Warrington to London in less than two and a half hours.”
The most pressing issues facing the housing sector nationally of speed, fairness and affordability, according to Andrew: “The supply of land and sites controlled by local authorities and quangos needs to be speeded up and disposed of on a more equitable basis rather than just the highest price achievable. Ensuring land values are realistic will enable the development of affordable housing.”
Although Andrew joined WHA during the pandemic, he does not anticipate there will much change to his day-to-day routine of checking consultants’ progress with development programme, reviewing construction costs and consultant fees to be paid, visiting sites to check construction programme aligns with contract agreements and seeking additional development opportunities, if and when covid outbreak is controlled.
“I am working from both home and in the office. I am also visiting sites and meeting external parties, reporting and verifying what is going on and meeting stakeholders, consultants and contractors to discuss projects and opportunities.
“The very nature of the job means that I need to be out and about.”