The association of South Essex local authorities (ASELA) local authority and housing association partnership development programme: phase one (Castle Point Borough Council)

Developing a strategic partnership to facilitate housing delivery.

At a glance

Housing Advisers Programme case study

2020/21 cohort 

What went in
  • A series of on-line workshops to build relationships and form a strategic partnership between local authorities and housing associations to increase the delivery of affordable housing in south Essex. 
  • Attendance by Chief Executives of local authorities and housing associations to workshops. 
  • 1:1 meetings with CEOs and other partners 
  • £20k from LGA Housing Advisers Programme. 
  • Facilitation by independent housing consultants with prior experience. 
  • The programme lasted 9 months in total.
What came out
  • A joint ambition to work together to become the “affordable housing delivery partnership of choice in South Essex”. 
  • A commitment to develop a strategic partnership underpinned by SPV(s). 
  • Sign up to develop the core proposition to the next stage including commitment of funding. 
  • Next stages included within the work programme of the ASELA Place Based Partnership with Homes England (MOU signed 17 January 2022) 

Jonathan Stephenson, Joint Chief Executive of Brentwood Borough Council and Rochford District Council said:

“This programme has successfully brought together a group of local authorities, housing associations and Homes England to collaborate on strategic place shaping in South Essex. Collectively we have been able to bring fresh thinking and develop innovate interventions on a scale that would not have been possible working on our own. I look forward to seeing the implementation of the solutions identified.”

“It is a privilege to work with such a forward-thinking group of local authorities and housing associations on the ASELA project. Everyone is determined to make a difference through collaboration and shared ambitions to provide a variety of opportunities for local people, business, and the environment. Such an exciting time for South East Essex.”  

Mary Gibbons, Chief Executive of CHP Housing Association


Executive summary

A group of Chief Executives from three local authorities and four regionally based housing associations worked together with a senior representative from Homes England over a period of 9 months to develop a common vision and develop a core proposition to form a strategic partnership (underpinned by SPV(s)) to be the Affordable Housing Deliverer of Choice in South Essex.   

Whilst the initial work was a collaboration with four housing associations, this is not an exclusive partnership to those four providers. They have acted as representatives for housing associations in the region. 

The aim of the partnership is to become an enabler and broker to maximise the strengths of the combined leverage of the Local Authority network, Housing Associations and Homes England.  The Partnership will work across existing communities and become a community anchor for regeneration and levelling up by providing high quality, carbon net-zero homes with a mixture of tenures.  As well as this it will focus on the accelerated delivery of affordable housing in three major new settlements in South Essex offering scale and collaboration to achieve efficiency savings and allow greater cross subsidy across the housing sector.

Challenge and context

We adapted a face-to-face series of workshops designed to build relationships and develop common solutions to an on-line programme due to Covid 19. The introductions of national lockdowns and changes to key positions resulted in some workshops being rearranged however 1:1s by the facilitators enabled participants to keep up to speed.

What we did

Through a series of on-line workshops and 1:1s facilitated by housing experts we agreed our ambition and what success looked like.  We then went on to develop our main areas of focus and what our strategic interventions could be.  Once we had this in place we agreed what we all needed to do to make it happen and agree the nature of our strategic partnership and the next steps.

The difference we made

For the first-time chief executives across the local authority and housing association sector in South Essex developed a joint vision to work together to become the affordable housing deliverer of choice for their communities. The new partnership will bring strategic leadership and a common set of behaviours and values together.  Chief executives from both sectors can see that by working flexibly around the “Place” they can bring partners together around new opportunities. 

There is recognition of the approach in the South Essex Place Based Partnership between ASELA and Homes England. That partnership will also support strengthening the small and medium-enterprise (SME) housebuilding sector and the relationship that sector has with housing associations. 

What’s next?

  • To enter a second phase of the project and develop a series of small exemplar sites to demonstrate deliverability and a template for future working.
  • To investigate and set up the delivery model.

Lessons learned

We learned that chief executives of local authorities share several common values and are willing to collaborate to deliver better outcomes to create more sustainable communities.  We also learned that to build partnerships we need to take time out to meet and develop our joint understanding of an issue.


Ian Butt Head of Place and Policy Castle Point Borough Council