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Tina Barnard: A reflection on my time as Chair of BuildEast

Tina Barnard, Chief Executive of Watford Community Housing, has reflected on her time as BuildEast Chair as her two-year term draws to an end.

The organisations, and their predecessors, that make up BuildEast have been at the heart of the East of England, collectively, for decades. I’d like to start by thanking them for their continued dedication to meet the needs and ambitions of the people and communities in our region. Our work has been crucial throughout the pandemic, and by working together we’ve been able to share insight and respond quickly to our customers.

BuildEast has continued to lead on policy, insight and expertise. It’s been a busy two years with the Social Housing, Planning and Energy white papers released, and key consultations on changes to shared ownership and the Domestic Abuse Bill. We’ve had an influential voice on the impact of the government’s changes to planning, including First Homes, and the temporary suspension of affordable housing on smaller sites (a proposal that is thankfully now dropped).

Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, we’ve engaged with MPs and the Housing Minister and have welcomed key speakers to our partnership meetings, including Homes England, and the Regulator of Social Housing.

At the heart of BuildEast is partnership working – we combine our individual strengths to make a bigger difference. I’m delighted that during my time as Chair, our membership has grown considerably and we now have 16 housing associations in the partnership, all with a key focus on meeting housing need in the East of England.

Together, we have agreed four key priorities where our partnership can make the biggest difference: diversity and inclusion, understanding housing needs and growth of the region, achieving net zero, and our collective response to the Housing white paper.

I hand over to Mary Gibbons, Chief Executive of CHP, with a sense of pride. BuildEast will continue to engage with local, regional and national government; championing our sector and our communities to meet our shared ambition of solving the housing crisis.