Time of reflection on 20 years of Progress

Staff outside the premises owned by New Progress Housing Association in Leyland, in 1996
Staff outside the premises owned by New Progress Housing Association in Leyland, in 1996
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This month marks 20 years since the biggest large-scale voluntary stock transfer of social housing in the North West, which led to the creation of the formation of one of Leyland’s best known housing organisations, Progress Housing Group.

In 1994, tenants of South Ribble Council voted to transfer its 3,500 homes to the newly-formed New Progress Housing Association; a significant milestone for the borough that helped shape the today’s thriving communities.

That year, 200 properties on the Wade Hall estate in Leyland were chosen for a much-needed refurbishment.

Coun Tony Kelly, then leader of the council at the time, said: “We hadn’t had the money to do the work, but something needed doing to those houses.

“When they were given to New Progress, that’s when the work started, and the people living in the houses had to move out.

“It’s like one big family down there though, so once the refurbishment was done, everyone moved back.

“It made such a difference to the people living there.”

Work took place over a five-year period, starting with 20 properties in June 1994.

In January 1995, they were handed back to the tenants.

New Progress was also responsible for redeveloping the shops in Wade Hall, demolishing the old ones and replacing them with today’s shopping area.

The housing association also helped set up Leyland’s Women’s Refuge, Clare House, which has seen more than 542 women and their children to escape domestic abuse by providing 24-hour support in a safe environment.

And in 1998, Progress Housing Group was formed as a parent organisation to help deliver the Association’s vision to provide housing and related services to a more diverse range of groups.

Its subsidiary, Progress Care Housing Association, was also formed in 1998 as a specialist provider of supported housing solutions for individuals with a range of supports needs, from learning disabilities to mental health.

Jacqui De-Rose, Group Chief Executive of Progress Housing Group, said: “We are incredibly proud of how far we have come since 1994 and the key role the organisation has played in providing high quality affordable homes, and creatingsustainable and positive communities.

“This has included initiatives such as community centres, supporting events and helping to tackle issues such as homelessness and anti-social behaviour.

“The hard work of our staff enabled us to fulfil the promises we made to tenants during the stock transfer in 1994 and we have continued to build on this to create places where people are proud to live and work.”