Knowsley Housing Trust


Knowsley Housing Trust


Knowsley Housing Trust had four tower blocks that had presented a number of management problems in the past and were now the focus of an options appraisal.

Knowsley Housing Trust asked arc4 to undertake a local housing market assessment with a view to establishing the current profile of the area, current and potential future demand, and the extent to which the current offer (in terms of property and tenure) was likely to be required in the future.

We were specifically asked to focus on:

  • Housing demand framed by a review of the wider social and PRS (private rented sector) market
  • The current status of the tower blocks, in terms of investment to date, lettings, bids, turnover, voids, resident profile etc. and how this has changed over the past few years
  • Reputational issues and the impact of these on the performance of the blocks
  • A formal options appraisal for the blocks considering marketing, branding, future investment and potential change of use or replacement
  • Case studies from other housing associations that had dealt with similar stock and gone through a formal options appraisal

What we did

In partnership with Arcus Consulting, arc4 carried out a review of a range of internal management information, including: the history of investment and potential future investment required on the blocks, and data from the choice based letting system in order to review the bids for the blocks and waiting list information.

arc4 also held a focus group with the blocks’ managing staff to capture their experiences and develop a number of case studies about how the blocks perform, their reputation and potential solution. In addition we also spoke with local estate agents about the area and its reputation to provide a better understanding of its PRS performance.

Using a range of secondary source data we undertook a market overview that included population forecasting by household numbers and age groups, prices, transactions, the performance of the private rented sector.

We then analysed the housing management performance data and produced a baseline evidence base that allowed us to compare the past, current and potential future performance of the housing market and stock.

We also identified three North West based case study examples where associations had faced similar issues with potential stock, and visited and interviewed officers to outline their approach, the decisions taken, the outcomes and any lessons learnt that would be relevant to the trust.

Arcus undertook an options appraisal and used arc4’s findings to consider a range of options for the stock.

These included:

  • Do nothing
  • Minimal refurbishment/major refurbishment
  • Change of uses
  • Demolish and replace

The Result

arc4 presented the trust with a final report. This included a detailed market evidence base that provided a comprehensive position statement for the blocks, their potential future options and arc4’s recommendations for future options.

This provided Knowsley Housing Trust with the basis for developing a long-term solution for the blocks that is now being considered within the trust’s wider business plan.