Social Housing Conference 2011 - "We have an opportunity to make a profound difference"

Delegates from across the UK gathered for a major property event in the North West to discuss the vision for the Social Housing Industry.

The Social Housing Conference returned to the Liverpool BT Convention Centre for the second year running.

More than 150 professionals operating in the sector attended the event organised by Mitchell Charlesworth and Brabners Chaffe Street.

It was sponsored by Arena Housing Group and the Harvest Housing Group with additional support from Riverside Housing Group Limited.

Speakers at the event included David Orr, CEO of the National Housing Federation, Joe Anderson, Leader of Liverpool City Council and Steve Coffey, CEO of Liverpool Mutual Homes.

Housing Conference 2011
Back Row: L to R - Paul Wainwright, Steve Coffey, Brian Cronin, Alistair Fletcher

Front Row: L to R - David Orr, Cllr Joe Anderson, Ian Perry

Key themes included the need for robust investment in social housing and the pivotal role the industry must play in helping communities through the current economic climate.

Mitchell Charlesworth Partner and social housing specialist Paul Wainwright said: "This was a great event reflecting the importance of the sector on Merseyside. We had a terrific turnout for what proved to be a highly informative event."

Alistair Fletcher, Partner at Brabners Chaffe Street and head of one of the largest social housing specialist legal teams in the North West said: "The key speakers were engaging, commenting on key sector areas of regeneration and green energy. This was a thought-provoking event which helped to stimulate wide scale debate on the challenges and opportunities faced by the sector."

Practical workshop sessions included speakers from the HCA, Plus Dane Group, The Mersey Partnership and the CEL Group.

Mr Orr spoke about the challenges faced by the industry and impending changes to the regulatory landscape. He also urged organisations to "look within" and maximise the potential of internal resources to help assert control over the future of the social housing environment.

He said: "This is an exciting time - if we can garner the creativity that exists in our movement, if we can use opportunities to think creatively about how we respond to those local challenges, then we really do have an opportunity to make a profound difference."

Brian Cronin, Chief Executive of Arena Housing Group jointly chaired the conference with Ian Perry, Chief Executive of Harvest Housing Group. Mr Cronin urged delegates to "rise to the challenge" over the next five years by developing new services to meet the needs of communities.

Meanwhile Mr Coffey said there is great reason to remain optimistic - with the industry having a track record of managing the hopes and expectations of local communities. He added that the Green Agenda will support UK construction, housing and energy services and provide a springboard to diversify and invest in local communities.

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