As first published in 24housing Magazine – Issue 129, July/August 2019

Joint ventures present an opportunity for housing associations to build organisational capacity, the revenues from which could help deliver on wider social housing commitments.

Joint ventures are well established in the sector and are becoming increasingly attractive, with developers looking to deleverage risk and housing associations launching commercial arms to bring in long-term revenue streams.

The joint venture between Riverside and Bovis Homes is a good example of how the strengths and experience of associations and commercial developers can be leveraged.

The £900m joint venture development at Wellingborough in Northamptonshire is set to be the largest Riverside has undertaken. When complete, the 3,650-home scheme will foster an entirely new community, as well as a range of facilities, including commercial space, two primary schools, and a doctor’s surgery.

But what is involved in bringing a complex joint venture to fruition? Moreover, how can this partnership be maximised? The first step in assembling a joint venture is due diligence. Associations must do their homework, undertaking an indepth review of the proposition while also evaluating the scope of the project and its deliverability.

At the heart of this process lies transparency. It is inevitable that associations and developers will have some different objectives as well as common ones, and it is important to voice these at the outset. By doing so, both parties can assess suitability for commercial success.

Although the legal framework for joint ventures often follows a reasonably standard process, the individual objectives of each party, together with the complexity of the development, will drive a more bespoke approach.

Establishing robust decision-making structures is essential. These can be devised to ensure associations have an equal level of control and decision-making power in the joint venture – often lost when providers choose to play the role of a sleeping investor.

Mirrored in the 50:50 partnership between Riverside and Bovis, associations can build on the strong legal foundations of a decision-making structure by showing a willingness to play an active role in development delivery.

This two-pronged approach is invaluable, allowing an association to safeguard its investment by astute monitoring of the business. As well as minimising risk, an active role also means associations can directly lend their expertise in community creation to help a developer build truly transformational schemes.

Though it may seem like a well-trodden path to growth, the joint venture model is evolving, with a range of innovative new methods now available to those looking to embark on projects with commercial developers.

For more information

For more information, please contact Jane Trevithick.