A HOUSING association has launched a series of major schemes to build new homes, and improve its existing stock.

Broadacres, which was criticised for “serious failure” and downgraded by Government regulators after losses of over £5.5m in a commercial arm, has regained its compliance status, and managers say they are working to ensure a legacy of safe, warm and secure homes for the 9,300 people who live in their 6,300 houses.

Questions have also been raised recently over a £35m loan given to Broadacres by Hambleton District Council.

Chief executive of Broadacres, Gail Teasdale said: “The loan was offered through the council at a commercial interest rate. It is fantastic we fund work on our homes, the loan is guaranteed through the housing stock and the interest is paid to Hambleton for community use. It is a win win.”

Ms Teasdale took over last year, helping to bring the housing association back to compliance. She added: “The organisation didn’t get it right but we can’t keep looking backwards. We can’t change the past however we can change the future and we are looking forward to invest in our homes.”

The association, which was formed when it took over 4,000 council houses from Hambleton Council in 1993, is hoping to build 1,250 affordable new homes over the next five years. It is also concentrating on upgrading existing homes. More than a third of tenants are aged over 60, and the average rent for a Broadacres home is £100 a week.

At Ashlands Housing Estate in Northallerton, Broadacres has been buying back former council houses and upgrading housing association homes where possible to install new heating and windows, improve insulation and eradicate asbestos.

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Painter Kevin O’Neill, one of Broadacres' 340 employees, said it is very rewarding working for the housing association. He added: “I had been finishing off improvements on one of the houses and a lady came in with two young children. She was moving from a small flat and she just burst into tears. She said she was so happy because the house was so nice. It was moving – it does get to you.”

The Kirk Road estate in Romanby, which is mostly home to older residents, is part of a major scheme to install gas and heat source heating in 323 homes to replace outdated storage heaters. The work is being done in one day.

One 69 year-old-resident said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. Broadacres have done a good job, it’s now so warm and comfortable and it was all done really quickly."

Ms Teasdale said a major problem is getting building land they can afford. Negotiations are underway with a developer in Northallerton for an estate of 100 affordable homes. “It is an issue and it does take time, but we are determined,” she added.