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Recently, locally based housing associations have been amalgamating together to form regional groups. Once the amalgamation has been accomplished, the groups often organize themselves on a product and activity basis, invest in innovative new products, develop vigorously, and continue to absorb further local associations.

GreenSquare Group Limited is typical of such a group, operating across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Swindon, and the surrounding areas. GreenSquare was originally formed in 2008 from two associations (Westlea

Housing Association and Oxford Citizens Housing Association). Another Oxford- based association, Oxbode, joined the GreenSquare Group in November 2012. GreenSquare now manages over 11,000 properties.

The strategy just described allows the reduction of administration costs and the development of product expertise. GreenSquare has the following:

• Development construction services provided by its in-house subsidiary Tidestone

• Property investment and maintenance of public open spaces undertaken by its commercial subsidiary Oakus

• Gas servicing and renewable energy business undertaken by a new acquisition, GW Sparrow & Company Ltd., based in Swindon

GreenSquare Group now has the following key business streams:

• General needs housing for rent, primarily by families who are unable to rent or buy at open market rates

• Supported housing and housing for older people who need additional housing-related support or additional care

• Low-cost home ownership, primarily shared ownership whereby residents purchase a share in the equity of their homes and pay rent to the association on the remainder

• Building large volumes of new affordable housing and a lead development partner under the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA)'s National Affordable Housing Programme (NAHP)

• A newly registered housing association, GreenSquare Community Housing Association, was set up in 2012. This will build houses financed by a £32 million sale-and-leaseback financing from Aviva, which will enable the Group to respond to new development opportunities as well as continuing to deliver its existing HCA program.

• The GreenSquare Academy has recently been set up to offer training and life skills development to residents, as many associations are becoming increasingly involved in education and vocational training.

Amalgamated organization structures carry a danger of reduced resident involvement; GreenSquare therefore set up three communities boards in 2012/2013 to ensure that its services and how the neighborhoods are run are kept under close review. Last year £0.9 million was allocated to support community projects. GreenSquare also has a Resident Scrutiny Panel to carry out inspections and engage directly with residents.

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