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Our History

With over 40 years of housing experience, Orbit Group has grown to be one of the largest housing groups in the UK, employing over 1,500 people and managing around 36,000 homes.

History at a glance:

  • 1966 - Orbit Housing Society Ltd and Orbit General Housing Association Ltd are established by Eric Bellingham (solicitor) and Clifton Bokenham (developer)
  • 1975 – Orbit registered with the Housing Corporation
  • 1980 – Orbit worked in three main regions: Bromley, Coventry and Norwich. A regional office in London was added in 1983
  • 1984 - The Orbit Emergency Response Unit (now known as Orbit Response Unit – ORU) was set-up
  • 1985 – Orbit operated across six regions
  • 1986 – Orbit managed 8,336 units. Care & Repair was launched in Coventry, Rugby, Burton-on-Trent, Great Yarmouth and Waveney
  • 1990 – Orbit Charitable Trust was set-up
  • 1992 – Orbit managed over 10,000 homes making it the 15th largest association in the country
  • 1994 – Orbit took over the management of Bexley Council’s housing stock increasing the portfolio to 19,300 properties
  • 1997 - Orbit First Step was created when all the shared ownership stock and related leaseholds were transferred from regional teams within Orbit Housing Association.
  • 1998 – Orbit Bexley Housing Association (OBHA) was formed as a new subsidiary to manage the 4,500 properties from the London Borough of Bexley
  • 2000 – Orbit’s property portfolio reached 23,860, covering 13 local authority areas
  • 2003 – Orbit’s Customer Service Centre became the first in social housing to be accredited by the British Standards Institution’s Call Centre Association for Best Practice. Orbit First Step (OFS) was awarded one of the largest Homebuy programmes of the year. Thanet Community Housing Association (TCHA) joined the Group bringing a further 2,580 homes into Orbit’s management
  • 2004 – OFS was selected as Zone Agent for the government’s Key Worker programme
  • 2006 - Liz Potter was appointed as Orbit’s first female chair
  • 2007 – TCHA , OBHA and Orbit Housing Association stock in the South came together as Orbit South Housing Association - now one of the largest social landlords in the South East. Orbit now managed over 27,500 homes
  • 2008 – Orbit amalgamated with South Warwickshire Housing Association. Heart of England Housing & Care also joined the Group. Orbit Housing Association merged with Heart of England to create Orbit Heart of England. At the same time, Orbit Housing Association stock in the east of England was rebranded as Orbit East.
  • 2009 – Orbit successfully won the bid to provide Care & Repair services in Suffolk, bringing the number of Home Improvement Agencies within the Group to six. OFS is now the largest HomeBuy Agent in the country after winning its bid to be Homebuy Agent in the West Midlands (covering Coventry, Warwickshire, Birmingham, Black Country, Solihull, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Hereford and Worcester); Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. OFS also successfully retained its HomeBuy status in Norfolk and Suffolk
  • 2010 – The Orbit Group is one of the largest housing groups in the country operating in the Midlands, the South East and the East of England providing over 34,500 high quality affordable homes to those in greatest need.
  • 2011 – The number of high quality, affordable homes owned by Orbit reaches 37, 000.
  • 2012 - Orbit launches Housing 2020, a ground-breaking research report looking into the future of housing, to wide acclaim at House of Commons. Orbit, along with the London School of Economics, also publish Bigger Than Business, a report into community investment with the help of Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd MP. These two reports reinforce Orbits place as a thought leader in the sector. Planning permission is also secured on Erith Park, a 600 home regeneration project in Bexley. Finally both our IT and Procurement teams win CIH Team of the Year in a unique double, with Orbit now providing business services to around 40 external organisations.

Download or read a PDF version of this document40 Years of Orbit Group [pdf]

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