Blackstone-owned affordable housing firm says it was biggest provider of new homes in 2021

For-profit social landlord Sage has set a new target to build 30,000 affordable homes by 2030, after delivering more than 3,000 affordable homes in 2021.

The business, which is backed by alternative asset manager Blackstone, claims that its delivery 3,287 affordable homes makes it the biggest UK provider of new affordable housing in the 2021 calendar year.

Sage Countryside Freeks Farm (1)

Freeks Farm is a partnership between Sage, Countryside and Homes England to deliver 237 affordable homes

Sage says it now plans to complete the purchase of 30,000 new build homes by 2030, having previously set itself a target of building a contracted pipeline of 20,000 homes by 2024.

The firm has decided to set the new ambition after having already met its 20,000-home target two years early. 

Sage, which now claims to own 7,200 affordable homes across 281 sites, works by acquiring section 106 properties from housebuilders, and through deals with housing associations and councils, but does not develop or construct properties itself.

Sage is one of a growing number of ’for-profit’ housing associations, which are together forecast by Savills to deliver up to 130,000 houses in the next five years.

Deals in the last year include the signing last November of a £106m deal with London-based housing association Optivo to buy up 420 of its new build homes, freeing the association to recycle the money into more development, and partnership deal with Countryside and Homes England to deliver 237 affordable homes at Freeks Farm in Burgess Hill.

>> See also: Why our £106m deal with Sage is a landmark for HA development

The firm has previously said it built 2,134 affordable homes in the 2021/22 financial year to the end of March, and now says it expects to have delivered around 3,400 in the 2021/22 financial year.

The delivery of 3,287 homes in 2021 comes after 1,918 affordable homes were built by the biggest housing association developer of affordable homes, Clarion, in the last financial year. However, none have so far released full numbers for the 2021 calendar year, so while it appears unlikely that other developers will have expanded enough to match Sage’s 2021 output, its claim to be the biggest is impossible to definitively verify.

Sage Mark Sater photo Sage formal

Sage chief executive Mark Sater

Sage chief executive Mark Sater said: “2021 was a milestone year for Sage as we became the largest provider of newly built affordable homes in England. While much of the housing sector has slowed delivery in the face of challenges such as Covid, environmental retrofit and remediation, Sage is proud to have continued to grow and deliver critical new homes.

We want to build on this momentum,” he said. “We have now revised our end of decade delivery target to over 30,000 new affordable homes”.

Sage says its investors have committed over £3.6bn to the development of newly built affordable homes since Sage was created by Regis Group in 2017. 

Blackstone bought Sage in May 2018. According to its most recent accounts to the end of calendar year 2020, it had by then built up a portfolio of around 4,000 homes, with contracts then exchanged to deliver a further 8,656.