A new 77,000 social landlord Southern Housing will be created by early next year 

Optivo and Southern Housing Group have announced the boards of the two housing associations have agreed plans to merge to create a new 77,000-home social landlord by early next year. 

The pair said the move will build a “strong and resilient organisation”. 

Paul Hackett headshot provided by Optivo low-res

Paul Hacket will be the chief executive of the new housing association Southern Housing

Paul Hackett, chief executive designate of Southern Housing, said: “This merger isn’t about growing into a large national organisation; it’s about doing what we do better in the communities we already work in. 

“Residents will be at the heart of our services and we’ll use our size to influence positive change in the areas where we operate.”

Sir Peter Dixon, chair designate of Southern Housing, added: “We believe in these very challenging economic times, we will be more financially resilient by joining forces. This will enable us to continue to develop new homes and meet sustainability commitments.”

The two associations revealed they were going to start merger talks in February and in July they announced their designate board. In June they picked their designate executive team

Optivo and Southern say they will shortly reveal changes to the executive team of the new housing association. 

Alan Townshend, the chief executive of Southern Housing Group, has announced he will be stepping down after the successful completion of the merger. 

Townshend said: “I am proud of getting us to the stage where the agreement to merge has been approved by both boards, however having reached this point the time is right for me to step aside and let others take the reins of the new organisation.” 

Paul Hackett said Townshend had a “a wealth of experience and I’m pleased he’s agreed to remain in post until we merge”.

Since the potential merger was announced in March it been subject to due diligence as well as negotiations. The associations have also consulted with residents, staff and external partners. 

Optivo has around 45,000 homes and operates across London, the South East and the Midlands. Southern has about 32,000 homes in the south east of England.