One of the UK’s largest housing associations and house builders, Orbit, marked 50 years of building communities at a celebratory event attended by the Housing Minister and partners from over the years.
At an anniversary dinner hosted by Orbit’s chair, Baroness Tessa Blackstone in the House of Commons, development and funding partners, MPs, current and former Board and Executive team members celebrated the organisation’s impressive record spanning five decades and discussed its future vision.
Baroness Blackstone welcomed guest speakers, Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and David Orr, chief executive at the National Housing Federation. While the evening was one of celebration, Orbit’s chair took the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the sector’s role in tackling the country’s housing crisis.
Baroness Blackstone, said: “As a country we only build half of the 250,000 homes needed each year. While we welcome the government’s renewed focus on social housing, with demand so great and supply so limited, much more needs to be done.
“We, like many housing associations, can step up and do even more. Our modelling shows that the post-2020 rent settlement will create capacity for us to build an extra 750 new homes for social rent between 2020-25. We look forward to continuing this work and delivering our ambitions for better and more housing for the communities we service.”
The 40,000-home housing association delivered an organisational record of 1,788 new homes in the last financial year and was the largest developer of social homes in the sector, building a total of 534.
The Minister welcomed Orbit’s ambition to deliver and recognised the need to build communities which are mixed-tenure, meeting all needs and aspirations. Speaking to the room, Mr Sharma noted that his ‘door is open’ and to fix the broken housing market a ‘collective effort’ is needed between all parties - government, housing associations, the private sector and SME builders.
Housing and Planning Minister Alok Sharma said: “We see the social housing sector as playing a vital role in fixing our broken housing market. That is why we have increased the affordable homes budget to more than £9 billion and introduced a wider range of measures to boost building of more homes.
“As one of the country’s largest housing associations and house builders, I am confident that Orbit will play their part in building the homes this country needs and supporting the different needs of a wide range of people.”
Earlier this year Orbit celebrated ownership of its 40,000th home in Stowmarket, the opening of Fordham House in Stratford-upon-Avon, the housing provider’s first venture into the private rented sector and the launch of its sector-leading campaign to tackle child poverty through practical actions.
David Orr, chief executive at the National Housing Federation, added: "It was an honour to celebrate 50 years of dedication that has helped thousands of people meet their housing needs. Orbit has been creative and imaginative throughout its history and has an impressive record of success. But the challenge now is so great that we have to rediscover the passion and commitment of its pioneers.
“This is a moment for a national push to end the housing crisis, and I know Orbit will be at the forefront of that work."