Lea Castle development awarded Building with Nature Design award

Posted on July 27th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Our Lea Castle development in Kidderminster has been awarded a Building with Nature Design Award for putting nature at the heart of the development.

We are working with Vistry Partnerships to build 600-homes on the 49-hectare site.

The awards, run by Building with Nature, recognise efforts to include nature in the development by designing and delivering a great living environment for both people and wildlife.

The Building with Nature framework purposefully encourages the incorporation of sustainable solutions and the use of nature-friendly features within a design, by assessing its approach to green infrastructure that considers peoples’ wellbeing, water management and wildlife habitat improvements.

Throughout the design process, sustainability has been at the forefront of our Lea Castle development, with the scheme maintaining extensive woodland areas while introducing areas of enhanced habitat.

There are also open spaces, play areas and trails available across the development.

Our Executive Director of Development, Nick Byrne, said: “We are thrilled that our Lea Castle development has been given a Building with Nature Design Award.

“Lea Castle is our largest development to date and putting nature at the heart of the development will create a lovely atmosphere for our customers to live in. We want our homes to make a real difference to our customers’ lives and having a development built around nature trails and open spaces will help to achieve this.”

Managing Director at Vistry Partnerships West Midlands Darren Beale said: “We are delighted to be recognised at a national level for our Lea Castle development. In Kidderminster, we have gone above and beyond the norm by creating something which allows wildlife and people to live together in perfect harmony by placing sustainability at the heart of all decision making.”

We also worked with environmental consultants, The Environment Partnership (TEP), to ensure the project met the award’s guidelines.

TEP’s Senior Landscape Architect, and qualified Building with Nature assessor, Anna Miroslaw, added: “We have worked hard to ensure that the landscape design reflects the unique and special character of this site, whilst also creating an environment in which the new community can flourish.

“The open spaces, play features and active trails have been designed for all to enjoy; sustainable drainage features allow rainwater to replenish the natural water table and carefully selected planting will enrich biodiversity.”

Building with Nature’s Standards provide built environment specialists with evidence-based, how-to guidance on delivering high-quality green infrastructure.

Work is continuing on the £137m development at Kidderminster which will be made up of 240 affordable homes and 360 outright sale. It will take up to eight years to complete.

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Next phase of Spirit Quarters regeneration in Coventry gets green light

Posted on July 21st, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Alongside national housebuilder, Keepmoat Homes, we have been granted planning permission from Coventry City Council for the delivery of 94 brand new homes as part of the Spirit Quarters regeneration programme in North East Coventry.

The multi-million-pound partnership led Spirit Quarters project, will enter its fifth phase following the completion of phases one to four which have delivered 979 new homes in the area, 275 of which were allocated for affordable housing in partnership with us.

The latest phase will comprise of a further 74 properties for the open market, comprising of two, three, and four-bedroom houses and 20 affordable homes.

Our Director of Regeneration Services Kevin Roach said: “We are delighted to be entering the next phase of our ambitious Spirit Quarters regeneration project.

“We believe passionately in the power of transforming communities here at Citizen and that successful regeneration is about much more than bricks and mortar. It means creating the right mix of homes and environment so that people value and stay in their area; it means creating real ownership in a community and investing in education, health, employment, transport, and leisure.

“The change that has taken place in the area and continues to take place would not have been possible without the continued drive, support and commitment of the community and our partner Moat House Community Trust.”

Charlotte Goode, Regional Managing Director at Keepmoat Homes, said: ‘’We’re thrilled to have received planning permission for the fifth phase of construction at Spirit Quarters. This significant regeneration project will not only deliver 94 much-needed new homes to the area, but every aspect of the development has been designed to fulfil the needs of this brand-new community.

“We’ve already welcomed over 700 new homeowners to Spirit Quarters and are excited to start construction on phase five, which will provide even more new homes for both first time buyers and those looking to up or downsize.

“This latest planning approval is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen our already existing presence in the city and is another positive step for our ambitious growth plans in the West Midlands.’’

Dianne Williams, Chief Executive of Moat House Community Trust, said “It is very exciting to be able to announce that the next phase of the redevelopment will be starting very soon and that we are entering into the final stages of delivering the vision that the residents had to transform their area through physical and social regeneration and investment.”

Cllr David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Housing at Coventry City Council, added: “Spirit Quarters is not only creating much-needed housing in the city, it is building a community.

“It is providing attractive housing with open spaces and is exactly the sort of development we are looking for as we work to meet housing demand for growing families, first time buyers and everyone in between.

“The first four phases have helped to transform the area and these latest plans will continue that good work.”

Construction is due to commence in the summer of 2021, with the first homeowners due to move in June 2022. The development will take around two and a half years to complete.

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Our intranet has been shortlisted for another national award!

Posted on July 13th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Our intranet, Oneplace, has been shortlisted for an Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) Award.

We have been shortlisted alongside the likes of Just Eat, John Lewis and Transport for London in the Best Intranet category.

The shortlisting follows our success in the Internal Communication and Engagement Awards where we beat organisations like Nestle to win Gold for Best Intranet.

The IoIC Awards champion the impact that internal communication has on organisations, society and people at work. They celebrate the best of the work communication professionals do every day.

Our Director of Communications Steve Hayes said: “In such a challenging year for colleagues it’s great to see the work we have put into Oneplace recognised again.

“Over the last few years we have been through a huge amount of change at Citizen and Oneplace has been integral to us communicating all that change successfully. It has also been a vital place for colleagues to connect with each during the pandemic.

“The Communications Team has worked very hard with the ICT Team to make Oneplace the vibrant, active community it is today. But in reality, it is all colleagues who make Oneplace what it is and it has been your willingness to share stories and contribute that has transformed it into a central hub and an integral tool in us embedding our culture and values.

“We beat some really big hitting organisations at the ICE Awards and to be named alongside huge names again at the IoIC Awards is fantastic. There’s no doubt this helps to put us on the map as a high-performing organisation doing sector-leading work.”

“We have our fingers crossed for the ceremony later this year and I want to thank everyone who has worked hard to make Oneplace a success.”

The ceremony will take place in London on Friday 24 September.

Find out more about the awards and read the shortlist here.

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Our intranet wins Gold at the Internal Communication and Engagement awards

Posted on July 8th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Our intranet Oneplace has won Gold in the Best Intranet category at the Internal Communication and Engagement Awards.

The prestigious national awards, run by Communicate Magazine, took place last night in central London.

We were nominated alongside Nestle in the Best Intranet category and other finalists included Bupa, Heinz and BT.

The awards recognise the outstanding work organisations have undertaken across the UK to engage colleagues.

Our Director of Communications Steve Hayes said: “It’s fantastic that Oneplace has won Gold in the Best Intranet category at the Internal Communication and Engagement Awards.

“Working closely with our colleagues in our ICT Team the Communications Team have made major improvements to Oneplace in recent times and this award really shows how far we have come.

“Our improvements to Oneplace have been integral to us embedding a positive culture here at Citizen and it has become a central hub for colleagues.

“I am so proud of the team behind the development Oneplace, thank you for all your hard work and commitment to making it the best place it can possibly be for colleagues.

“Our work to continuously improve Oneplace to inform, engage and inspire colleagues will continue.”

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Recruitment for our Customer Assurance Committee starts today!

Posted on July 7th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

A new recruitment campaign for our Customer Assurance Committee has started today.

The committee launched in early 2021 forms a central part of our approach to make sure our customers are involved in our work and get the opportunity to shape our services.

This is an important part of our strategic objective to improve our offer to our customers, which is part of our looking out for our citizens pledge in our 2020-23 business strategy.

We are accepting applications until Monday 19 July and we’re particularly interested in seeing applications from customers in our high-rise blocks and leaseholders.

We are offering £2,500 a year for the positions or a voluntary position as an alternative if a customer’s income would be affected by the annual payment.

Emails have been sent to all customers today sharing with them our dedicated web page for applications.

The web page includes links to a recruitment pack and other useful documents as well as an application form which customers can fill in on the webpage or download and return to us. We can also send application forms to anyone who isn’t online.

Will Walker, our Director of Transformation, said: “Our Customer Assurance Committee has already been involved in some hugely important projects to steer our work and we want this to continue.

“We’re now looking for some new, enthusiastic people to join the passionate customers on our committee and continue its great work.

“Our recruitment campaign starts today and I encourage colleagues who know customers they think may be suitable and interested in the roles to direct them to the web page to take a look and consider applying – especially customers who live in our high-rise blocks and leasehold customers.”

Find out more and apply here

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We’ve been named in Inside Housing’s Top 50 Biggest Builders list – and we’ve climbed the ranks

Posted on June 21st, 2021 by Elaine Davies

We’ve been named in Inside Housing’s Top 50 Biggest Builders list for the second year running!

The survey ranks housing associations by the total number of completions in 2020/2021.

This year we were ranked at number 26 after completing 503 homes. Of these 331 were affordable or social rent homes, 123 were shared ownership and 49 were outright sale.

Last year we were ranked at number 42.

Our Executive Director of Development Nick Byrne said: “We are so pleased to have appeared in Inside Housing’s Biggest Builders list again, and to have increased our position.

“The last year has been unusual for everyone with the coronavirus pandemic, but everyone in the Development team has worked so hard to allow us to hit our revised targets for last year and reach 26 on the list.

“In the last year we have increased the amount of homes we have delivered by 25 per cent so the team should be very proud.

“We are a Midlands based housing association and it’s great that our work is being recognised alongside other national builders in the top 50 who work across a larger area.”


View the Inside Housing Biggest Builders list here.

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Citizen has made the final of a prestigious national customer service award

Posted on June 17th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Citizen has made the final of a prestigious national award ceremony which recognises the best customer service organisations in the UK.

We have made the final in the Freshworks Best Customer Experience category at the UK Customer Satisfaction Awards, which are run by the Institute of Customer Service.

Fellow finalists include Clarks, Samsung and Octopus Energy.

Our place in the final recognises the work we have done to drive forward our strategic objectives to improve our customer offer and our services. This includes the rollout of our Customer Experience Platform, our Citizen First training programme, an exceptional performance in our Customer Service Centre during the pandemic, and a range of other work to improve the experience of our customers.

Lourdes Sharpe, our Director of Customer Services, said: “Making the final of these awards is a fantastic achievement and represents a huge amount of work by colleagues.

“To be named alongside customer service giants demonstrates just how much progress we have made to put customer service at the heart of our work. This puts us on the map as an organisation doing great work to continue to improve the standard of our services and our customer offer.

“I am extremely proud of my team and of all colleagues at Citizen for contributing to this success. We know that our work to improve the experience of our customers is never done, but this is a mark of real progress.”

The final ceremony for the UK Customer Satisfaction Awards will take place in London, in October.


Click here to find out more and read the full shortlist.

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Coventry Homefinder is changing to make the process of applying for a home easier

Posted on June 15th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

A site our customers use to search and bid for properties is changing to make the process of applying for a home easier.

Coventry Homefinder is going to launch an update later this year, alongside changes to priority banding to make sure that people are prioritised correctly.

The changes follow an update to the Housing Policy last autumn.

Before the new site is launched later this year, 13,000 residents in Coventry will need to re-apply to make sure their details are correct, and their banding is up to date.

This needs to be done by Monday, September 6.

Our Head of Allocations and Lettings Clare Garner said: “We’re pleased that this new system will make the process of applying for homes easier for residents in Coventry.

“We want the process of applying for a home to be as easy as possible for our customers.”

As well as making Homefinder easier to use, the new policy will also see some changes to applicant eligibility and the way people are banded. Those applying for homes must have a local connection (barring some exceptional circumstances) and earn, or have assets, totalling less than £50,000. Customer will also not be able to register if they do not have a housing need recognised in the new policy.

As a result, some people’s priority bands may change to make sure that those with the greatest housing need in the city, such as care leavers, are prioritised. New categories such as living with friends or family, or experiencing financial difficulty in current properties, have also been added to the system.

Cllr David Welsh, Coventry City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, said: “The new system and policy updates will make this process quicker and easier, as well as ensuring that those who are in need are prioritised accordingly.

“Our new website will be much easier to use and bid for homes, and our teams have managed to simplify the application system to a single form.

“We need everyone who is currently registered to reapply – this will ensure your registration date remains in place and will make sure everyone is in the right band for their needs.”

For more information about the changes click here.

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Rose Community Centre in Spon End receives £1k donation

Posted on May 27th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

The Rose Community Centre in Coventry has received a £1,000 donation after filming for a new BBC drama took place earlier this year.

Dave Roberts from the Rose Community Centre said the donation will help to close the gap between income and expenditure.

He said: “We are so pleased to receive this money following the filming which took place earlier this year. Due to the Covid 19 lockdown, the Rose Centre – with short intervals – has not had any income for room hire since March 2020.

“The donation has helped ease the pain of lockdown. Gas, water, electricity and business rates still have to be paid and thankfully we were also eligible for grant funding from the Government, without which we would have been in a more precarious position than we are now.”

Dave said he is hoping that residents will become more engaged with the centre now restrictions are starting to ease.

He added: “This donation has given us a bit more breathing space and will help to keep the wolves from our door.

“The Rose Centre was set up as a facility for community events, promoting social inclusion and improving the lives of the community and we hope to welcome people back soon.”

Some of the events that have recently re-started at the community centre include the Men Shed. This is a group for the over 40s which helps to relieve boredom and helps with male mental health.

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We are investing £750,000 to fit out a further 250 homes in our Fresh Start Standard

Posted on May 25th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

This financial year we are planning to invest £750k into our Fresh Start pilot to ensure 250 homes are re-let at a higher standard, giving our new customers a foundation for life.

Fresh Start is a pioneering project which sees some of our hardest to let properties – one-bedroom bedsits – refurbished to a higher standard.

Over the next year we will be focusing on 250 properties in Birmingham and Coventry.

During the last financial year, we invested £255,000 in 70 properties in Coventry – 35 of the homes were given new flooring and fresh decoration and the other 35 were given new flooring and white goods.

This will continue with our next 250 properties – half will be given new flooring and fresh decoration and the other half will have new flooring and white goods.

Our Director of Housing Peter Gill said: “It’s fantastic that we have moved on to the next stage of our Fresh Start pilot to refurbish a further 250 homes in Birmingham and Coventry.

“We believe that when people move into our homes, they deserve to have a fresh start. Too often customers move into a home with none of the essentials they need to be able to live well in their home.

“We are waiting to see the results of our previous pilots to understand what really helps our customers. We will only really be able understand what is and what isn’t working when we see our customers staying in their homes.

“In our business strategy, one of our objectives is to improve our offer to our customers and we believe that our fresh start pilot helps us to do this.

“Thanks to everyone who has worked on this project so far, to date we have successful refurbished 82 properties to our Fresh Start Standard. It’s brilliant to see our collaborative working throughout the whole project from our Maintenance Operatives through to our Lettings Team.”

Work has already started on our next 250 properties and is due to be completed by the end of this financial year.

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