In Conversation With… Alan Williams
March 25, 2013
There’s a plethora of leading figures in the property, investment, finance and charity sectors who we’re regularly in conversation with, many of whom are guest authors for PRSupdate – and here we share more about them, their roles, priorities and backgrounds. If you would like to feature in this series, or to suggest someone who might, please get in touch through our contact us page or let us know on twitter.
Why not take a lucky dip into our In Conversation archives and discover:
- Stuart Corbyn, Chairman of Qatari Diar Delancey, East Village Operations
- Lesley-Anne Avis, National Chairman of the Association of Women in Property
- Mark Weedon, Head of Residential and UK Alternative Real Estate at IPD (Investment Property Databank)
Today we speak with Alan Williams, Group Development Director of One Housing Group.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I am a Building Surveyor by training and have more than 30 years’ experience in housing development, property maintenance, planned and major works programmes and housing management. I joined Community HA in 1997, became Development Director in 2004, and then Group Development Director at the formation of One Housing Group.
How did you get involved in the housing sector?
My first job in the housing sector was when I joined the then Ealing Family HA in 1989 as part of their maintenance team.
What affect did the financial crisis have on the affordable housing sector?
Pretty catastrophic for some and challenging for all. Development activity was certainly placed under great strain and those who had perhaps taken too many risks on rising values had to seriously retrench. But some of us are now emerging into an era of greater confidence in our ability to deliver new homes whilst having much more control over our own destinies.
What do you predict for the future of the affordable housing sector?
For the medium term it will be challenging as we adapt to a life beyond development grant. Those who are flexible and creative enough to embrace the new agenda – and with it the wider definition of affordable housing – stand to gain the most in terms of financial stability and increased development activity.
Housing, and social housing, are hot political topics at the moment. What steps do you believe could be taken to improve the situation?
I would advise that commentators in the social housing sector stop harking back to the “good old days” of just 3 to 5 years ago. They weren’t that good in reality with burgeoning regulation becoming more and more oppressive and the scope for creativity being squeezed out of the sector. This is a seminal moment for housing associations and we have the chance to regain our proper role as developers and landlords free from constant intervention from government as well as being agents for change. We should grab it with both hands.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your role?
I don’t see any real game-changing challenges – simply more opportunities. And we at One Housing Group embrace opportunities!
What would you say is your most memorable moment or proudest achievement?
Enabling the growth in our development activity at this time by changing from facility financing arrangements to project funding.
Finally, do you have a favourite London landmark?
Despite all the shiny glass towers now being built across London, my favourite landmark is St Pauls Cathedral. A mix of form and function that never ceases to amaze.