Mon, 21 Jan 2019
SOVEREIGN Housing is to close its headquarters in Newbury town centre and relocate 300 staff to Basingstoke.
The Newbury Weekly News can reveal that the housing association is expected to move both its head office and customer contact centre by the summer.
Meanwhile, the housing, development, property and community investment services will be brought together at a new Greenham hub – although this may not be created until 2020.
The news spells the end for the association’s two Bartholomew Street offices – Woodlands and Berkshire House – plus the depot at Fulton Court, Greenham Business Park.
Sovereign Housing spokesman Tim Abbott said: “Just over 300 office-based employees in West Berkshire will move to the new building in Basingstoke later this year.”
He added in a statement: “Sovereign is set to move to new, modern offices that will help us continue our transformation into a modern, connected business, with our residents and customer service at the heart of what we do.
“As Sovereign has grown, often through merger, we now operate out of 20 offices across the South and South West. “Many of these offices are no longer fit for purpose and are not necessarily in the right places to support our resident services or our future larger and land-led development programme.”
The association plans to move all its Berkshire and Hampshire operational teams to seven new, purpose-built ‘hubs’ – one of which will be in Greenham Business Park, with 400 employees.
The statement continued: “Teams will move into this fantastic building when it’s completed during 2020.
“Meanwhile, our head office and customer contact teams will move to a new building in Basingstoke, currently called The Florence Building, from late summer.”
Sovereign has said it will work closely with West Berkshire Council on future options for the three Newbury sites.
The association’s chief executive, Mark Washer, said: “This decision is part of our efforts to rethink how we do things, working in a more agile and effective way with residents and customers at the heart of everything that we do.
“I’m really excited by the potential these fantastic new buildings can offer.
“As well as being both modern and affordable, by bringing teams together we can really focus on building even more affordable homes, providing great services and investing in the community.
“I also believe that by building a bespoke, new hub at Greenham, we’re really underlining our long-standing commitment to providing jobs and careers in West Berkshire, now and for the future.”
In 1989, the then Newbury District Council voted, behind closed doors, to undertake the country’s largest transfer of council houses.
The move meant more than 7,000 homes were transferred to the West Berkshire Housing Association, which became known as Sovereign Housing Association in January 1994.
It has since grown to be one of the largest housing associations in the country, providing more than 57,000 homes for around 130,000 people in housing need across the South and South West of England and the Isle of Wight.