Manchester-based associations had been plotting 34,000-home tie up

Manchester-based association Great Places Housing Group has ended talks to merge with smaller local provider MSV, citing the current challenging “operating environment”.

Great Places, which owns around 26,000 homes, started talks with 8,000-strong Mosscare St Vincent about merging in October last year, stating the aim was for the two providers to become “more resilient” in a challenging environment.

Great Places housing association

Homes planned by Great Places Housing Group

However, last week Great Places said the merger discussions were being delayed by up to three months due to the “increasingly challenging economic, operating and regulatory backdrop” faced by the organisations, and this morning the organisation said the plan was being abandoned entirely.

In a statement to the City, Great Places said: “The operating environment has thrown up many unanticipated challenges since both organisations began talks”, and added that the decision to delay talks had “caused our Boards to reflect on the business case for merger”.

The organisations said that following these deliberations they had decided they would “work together collaboratively” and as partners within the Greater Manchester Housing Partnership, but not join together as one organisation.

The decision comes amid growing concern over financial pressures on the sector, given the impact of inflation, falling house prices, rising interest rates and capped rents, alongside the need to invest in existing stock and new homes to address deepening concerns over quality issues.

Great Places boss Matthew Harrison had been expected to step down when the merger went through, however the association said he was now planning to stay on at the organisation.

Great Places has previously said it is aiming to build 11,000 homes between 2020 and 2030. It was last year named as a strategic partner by Homes England and has been allocated £240.8m to build 4,920 homes by 2028. The association leads the Offsite Homes Alliance of 23 housing associations looking to boost off-site manufacturing in the sector.