23 February 2021

There’s a lot of jargon in the news at the moment. “Levelling up”, “red wall” or even worse “left behind towns” – but really do we talk enough about how you can turn a place around?

Economic and social transformation are easy to say but hard to do. The causes of deprivation are well known, but fixing the problems isn’t easy. Unfortunately, nobody can wave a magic wand to make this happen and if only it were that easy.

Together Housing operates throughout over 30 local authority areas across the North with most of our homes concentrated in Yorkshire and Lancashire. While Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool can often grab the headlines, our role focusses on place shaping in towns such as Halifax, Colne, Blackburn, Darwen and Rawtenstall where we are the major housing provider.

Place shaping is as much about towns as it is about cities. We know our towns have their challenges: Blackburn with Darwen is one of the top 10 places in England with the highest number of deprived neighbourhoods. Many of these areas have also been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus crisis over the last year and are likely to struggle economically in the coming months and years.

Great Places Commission

As the NHF’s Great Places Commission showed, housing assoctions have a key role to play as anchor institutions in transforming a particular place. Together Housing’s Chair, Dave Procter, was a member of the Commission along with housing association colleagues from across the North and Midlands.

Together Housing supports the 10 recommendations of the Great Places Commission and calls on everyone to implement them. Five recommendations were for the government, but importantly five recommendations were for housing associations themselves. We’ve spent time thinking through how we can deliver great places through our new corporate plan.

Together Housing’s approach

Our new corporate plan has just been approved by our board and will start in April this year. At its heart, it has a more ambitious regeneration approach to our existing neighbourhoods. We aim to improve these neighbourhoods by a long-term sustained approach to place shaping.

By working together with other anchor institutions such as local authorities, we intend to make a long-term difference in communities. A key role will be played by our charity Newground Together, which undertakes regeneration and provides education and training in our communities. But it’s more than social value as each year we invest millions in local areas through improving and repairing our homes along with improving the local environment.

So, place shaping and regeneration are here to stay for Together Housing.

Kevin will be speaking at the National Housing Summit 2021 on 22-25 March, focussing on community investment. Find out more about booking your place.

Kevin Ruth

Kevin is Deputy Chief Executive of Together Housing

An accountant by trade, Kevin has a track record of success in large organisations at a senior level. Prior to joining Together Housing as Director of Resources, he worked at HACAS Chapman Hendy, a leading firm of social housing consultants.

Kevin leads Together Housing’s resident focused ethos, alongside direct responsibility for the Group’s investment and growth agenda. His experience includes strategy development, business planning, project management, organisational development and performance management.

Kevin’s role involves partnerships across the public and private sectors including numerous Joint Ventures with commercial housebuilders. He led the integration of charity, Newground Together, into the wider Together Housing Group.

Outside work, Kevin follows Liverpool FC and enjoys riding his bike.

Creating great places