Tag: affordable housing industry

  1. New Government Policy, Challenges Ahead & Career Inspiration

    Toyin Falade

    Meet Toyin Falade

    In the latest of our Property Leadership interviews, Phil Foster from Ocean Edge Executive Search talks Toyin Falade, an experienced property marketing and sales executive who has worked at executive level within the affordable housing sector for One Housing. Toyin moved into the housing association sector having built a successful career within the private sector working for developers and property agents.

    Can you tell me a little about how you became involved in the affordable housing sector and how you progressed into a senior level role.

    Sure! After completing my MSc in Housing Futures at UCL, I unexpectedly found myself in the affordable housing sector. Needing a job to pay off student loans, I took a temporary sales consultant role at Southern Housing Group. Growing up as a first-generation Nigerian on a South London estate, this role resonated deeply with me and fuelled my commitment to meet commercial targets and support community development.

    Over the past two decades, I’ve worked in sales and marketing within the property sector. I started as an administrator at Greenwich Millennium Village and gradually took on roles that involved driving initiatives and developing strategies that blend profitability with social impact. At One Housing, I led innovative projects, such as the LGBTQ+ housing partnership with Tonic Housing, and delivered significant sales revenue to support the business’s charitable aims.

    My roles have included strategic oversight, fostering customer satisfaction, and ensuring robust sales growth. Most recently, as a Non-Executive Director for BexleyCo Homes, I provided strategic guidance and risk management. My background in law and housing futures, combined with a commitment to social impact, has equipped me to navigate the heavily regulated landscape in which housing providers operate.

    In light of your experience how do you feel about the recent announcements made by Rachel Reeves and the setting of new build targets?

    The goal to deliver 1.5 million homes in five years is ambitious and shows a renewed optimism. However, the approach seems overly simplistic. Issues like nimbyism and regulatory red tape will pose significant challenges, especially since Labour’s targets require development on some currently designated green belt land. Meeting these targets amid competing priorities like immigration, NHS waiting lists, and economic recovery post-Brexit and COVID-19 will be tough. While planning reform is crucial, it won’t solve all the issues in Britain’s building sector. The housing market downturn, rising material costs, and skill shortages, particularly in construction and energy infrastructure, are significant hurdles. Having seen many initiatives launched by different governments, I remain optimistic. Seeing the Treasury’s serious engagement with planning reform is encouraging. Given the scale of the challenge, it’s a solid start. Let’s watch this space – exciting times are ahead!

    Do you think the targets set are realistic and will have an impact on the affordability of rented, shared ownership and first-time buyers?

    I think the targets set are both ambitious and necessary, but I do have some concerns about how realistic they are given the current challenges. With the housing market downturn, rising material costs, and a shortage of skilled workers, meeting these goals will be tough. Affordability issues are already a big problem because of the lack of housing supply, high inflation, and interest rates. To really make a difference for renters, shared ownership seekers, and first-time buyers, the new government will need to do more than just set targets. They’ll need to boost the supply of affordable housing and also offer some financial support, like grants

    and mortgage assistance. Reducing stamp duty could also help, along with investing in infrastructure and promoting financial education. If the new government works closely with industry experts and stays committed to these goals, I’m hopeful they can improve affordability for many people looking to own or rent a home.

    What advice would you offer to any RPs or local authorities looking to start or ramp up their new build development programmes specifically in relation to your area of expertise in relation to sales etc? Are there any pitfalls to be avoided?

    For Registered Housing Providers and local authorities starting or expanding new build development programmes, they should lean on sales and marketing teams and expertise to focus on comprehensive market research to fully understand local housing demand. We aspire to build homes people want and with so much competition out there developers need to stand out and really engage with prospective customers by showing off the unique selling points of their homes but also the benefits to the customer in choosing them! Developing a robust and stand out marketing strategies that use digital and traditional advertising is a basic standard that now requires greater creativity and insights or collaboration with other sectors. Sectors that overlap with housing and lifestyle, brands that excite consumers.

    Caution! New business teams that do not have the sales and marketing teams at the heart of their negotiations or who are not fully aligned with operations teams are bound to face upheaval. Also ignoring market signals, neglecting after-sales support and underestimating costs especially service charges is a reputational risk for businesses. Regular market research, horizon scanning, collaborative and transparent communication between teams and excellent after-sales support, will ensure the quality homes come to the market that excite customers for the long run.

    It has been a tough time for people working in property and specifically sales and marketing. What advice would you offer to anybody working in the sector now and looking to progress their career?

    It’s been a rough few years for everyone in property, especially in sales and marketing. With everything from COVID-19 to Brexit and political instability shaking things up, it’s no surprise things have been tough. Here’s some advice if you’re looking to move forward in your career:

    • Keep Learning: Personally, I’ve found value in things like my MSc and Leadership 2025 programme. The key is to stay curious and keep learning. Whether it’s through courses, talks, or advanced qualifications, expanding your knowledge can help you adapt to new challenges.

    • Stay Informed: Make sure you’re up to date with the latest market trends and systems. The industry is always evolving, and being in the know helps you stay ahead. Covid has changed the design of homes and how we market and sell – it’s good to be at the forefront of such change.

    • Network: Building strong connections is crucial. Attend industry events, engage with peers and partners—networking can lead to new opportunities and valuable insights.

    • Specialise: Depending on where you’re at in your career, focusing on a niche area can be a game-changer. Specialising in something like AI for property sales, sustainability, or CRM tools can make you stand out.

    • Seek Mentorship: Having mentors to guide you through the ups and downs is incredibly valuable. I regularly check in with mine for advice and perspective, and it’s made a big difference for me.

    •  Stay Resilient and Purpose-Driven: Finally, resilience and a positive attitude go a long way. Make sure your work aligns with your personal values—when you’re passionate about what you do, it helps you push through tough times.

    Looking back at your own career, what piece of advice would have been most valuable to you?

    Looking back on my career, the best piece of advice I could give would be to embrace continuous learning and adaptability. The property sector is constantly evolving, so staying updated on market trends, tech advancements, and industry best practices is key. Building a solid professional network early on would also have been incredibly valuable. Strong relationships and mentorships can open doors and offer crucial guidance along the way. And don’t overlook the importance of physical and mental well-being. Personally, I find activities like swimming, sound baths, travelling, visiting exhibitions, yoga and walking, to be essential. Family time is also a big part of my life—I cherish the moments spent with them, whether we’re joking around or enjoying some delicious jollof rice. Maintaining a balance between professional growth and personal well-being is vital. It helps you stay resilient and positive, which is crucial for navigating the ups and downs of the industry and for long-term success and growth.

    Can you recommend any literature, podcasts or information in relation to leadership, career development or inspiration that others might find useful.


    Motivational and inspiring books

    • Originals: How Non-conformists Change the World by Adam Grant – examines how people can drive creative, moral, and organisational progress―and how leaders can encourage originality in their organisations.

    • Dare to Lead by Brené Brown – Focuses on leadership and the power of vulnerability and what it means to dare greatly.

    • Atomic Habits by James Clear – Discusses the importance of habits in personal and professional development.


    These are my favourite podcasts for motivation and good health:

    • “The Tony Robbins Podcast” – Offers advice on business, personal development, and leadership from Tony Robbins and other experts.

    • Feel Better, Live More Dr Ranjan Chatergee 360° approach to health by focussing on 4 pillars of health: Food, Movement, Sleep and Relaxation.


    My favourite Ted Talk of all time by Scott Dinsmore, how to find and do work you love:


    These are my favourite YouTube channels to keep abreast of market sentiment, investing and property market news:





    Ocean Edge Executive Search provides award-winning recruitment services to social housing, local authorities and the wider property sector. To find your next role, or to discuss your hiring needs please contact Philip Foster on philipfoster@oceanedge.biz or call 023 8000 1153.

  2. How modern methods of construction can help address the housing crisis – an interview with Nicola Clayton

    In the latest of our Property Leadership interviews, Philip Foster talks to Nicola Clayton, a housing professional with 30 years’ experience in the sector and now a leading voice in the MMC (modern methods of construction) industry. Nicola gives her expert opinion on how MMC can play a significant role in addressing the UK housing crisis and shares her experiences as a successful leader.

    What are you passionate about?

    People!  People can’t be happy and healthy unless they have a safe, warm and stable home.  Where and how you live affects every aspect of your life, so I’m passionate about getting the basics right.  So, I’m determined to increase and improve the provision and standards of sustainable homes in the UK. I feel particularly passionate about increasing the delivery of social and emergency housing.

    Talk me through your career route and highpoints

    My career in housing spans over three decades, starting as a Junior Housing Clerk and progressing to senior roles and then moving to the private sector.  My career highs include securing support and housing for some very vulnerable residents to leading strategic housing projects, securing significant funding for housing initiatives, developing hundreds of affordable homes.  Apart from seeing people moving into their homes, I love the friendships that I have built along the way.  I’m still in touch with people I worked with 20 years ago.

    What do you enjoy about your current role?

    As Head of Business Development at Etopia, my role is very varied which I love.  I have written and delivered our sales and marketing strategies, engaging with key stakeholders from Chief Executives to site operatives. Seeing the residents move into their new homes is the absolute best. I feel I’m good at explaining and educating clients about the benefits of the Etopia system, housing and MMC in general.  I enjoy meeting people, building meaningful industry relationships, and contributing to the conversation and drive for a society where everyone has access to a home that is healthy and meets their needs.

    What do you think are the biggest issues facing the housing sector?

    There’s been talk of a housing crisis since before I began my housing career.  It’s so severe now as we’ve never tackled it and the crisis has spread from social, to affordable homes to first time buyers and homeowners struggling after interest rate rises and those in the private sector struggling too.

    The main factor is that there are not enough homes.  I don’t think that there is one silver bullet that will solve it, and it will take 10 years to make a dent, but there are several critical issues:

    Building 90k social rent homes could save the economy £52bn – this is because of the ripple effect of poor physical and mental health, stress, reduced educational attainment, worklessness etc. Having a healthy home that you can afford to heat, get a decent night’s sleep and not have to worry about eviction or choosing between heating and eating is huge!  I feel that the Government should “spend to save” buy creating the infrastructure needed for new homes – roads, doctors, schools etc and then developers will follow.

    We also need to embrace and encourage alternative funding for affordable and social homes. Combining investment (ESG or Pension Funds) with tax breaks or gifts of land owned by the Government could improve the viability of development.

    It’s not just about affordable housing – homes of all tenures and sizes from bungalows and flats to 3-bed homes are needed to ensure that there is enough space within the housing market for people to get onto and move up and down the housing ladder.

    How can MMC play a role in solving the UK housing crisis?

    Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) can play a significant role in addressing the UK housing crisis by speeding up the construction process, reducing costs, and improving the quality and energy efficiency of homes. MMC also allows for more innovative and sustainable building practices that can help meet the growing demand for affordable housing.

    What advice would you give someone looking to launch or develop a career in MMC?

    For those looking to develop a career in MMC, I advise gaining a deep understanding of the sector, staying updated with the latest technologies and regulations, and building a strong professional network. It’s also essential to be adaptable, continuously seek learning opportunities, and focus on sustainability and quality in all projects.

    You’re a successful leader, what are your secrets to effective leadership?

    Effective leadership, in my view, involves authenticity, clear communication, emotional intelligence, and the ability to build and maintain strong relationships. It’s crucial to empower team members, foster a collaborative environment, and lead by example. My success in managing teams and delivering large-scale projects highlights the importance of strategic planning and a commitment to continuous improvement.

    What are your thoughts on achieving the net zero target and how does MMC fit in?

    The term Net Zero and what it means is still being discussed.  For me it’s ensuring that we stop producing carbon emissions completely.  The Law currently states that the UK will achieve this by 2050.


    Homes currently produce 40% of all carbon emissions because of the way we heat, cook and get hot water in our homes.   This is because we use natural gas and how we generate electricity.

    To minimise the heat required to keep a home comfortable the fabric of the home must be well insulated to ensure that the cold temperatures outside don’t affect the temperature inside.  This is called fabric first and why the initial consultation on of the Future Homes Standard set challenging targets to make sure homes were built to a high standard to reduce energy consumption.  Unfortunately, the revised consultation that was released in December 2023 left those standards unchanged. High performing external fabrics are much easier to achieve with MMC in a manufacturing environment than through traditional building methodologies.

    This also means that the homes we are building now aren’t going to save enough energy to be net zero and will need retrofitting before 2050 to meet the standard.   Even if we only use renewable energy, bills will be expensive as we will use more electricity and as a country we will need to spend £bns to upgrade the electricity infrastructure, all because we aren’t biting the bullet on MMC and higher fabric standards.

    I believe that when the skills shortage really takes hold and mortgage lenders have more and more customers wishing to borrow more to retrofit their homes, significant change will happen.



  3. Ocean Edge Executive Search helps Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council strengthen regeneration team

    Sarah Good, Head of Major Projects and Development at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council

    We have been delighted to help Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to strengthen its commitment to ambitious regeneration and renewal plans with the appointment of two new members of staff.

    We worked with the local authority to manage the recruitment process which resulted in the appointment of Sarah Good as Head of Major Projects and Development, and Grant Thornton as Regeneration Manager. They will both work under Director of Regeneration Sarah Longthorpe who joined the council in April last year, following a recruitment process that was also led by us.

    The dedicated regeneration team will spearhead the delivery of programmes including Basing View business district, Basingstoke Leisure Park and the regeneration of Basingstoke town centre.

    Director of Regeneration Sarah Longthorpe says the two new appointments will play a pivotal role in helping to shape the future of the local area.

    “As a forward-looking and financially sustainable council, we are committed to ensuring Basingstoke is a place where people have access to great opportunities and can thrive and where businesses can flourish. This vision is underpinned by our ambitious multimillion pound regeneration plans, working alongside the private sector, which includes developing new leisure facilities, new homes and infrastructure led by local communities as part of well-planned and sustainable development and opportunities for businesses.

    “Both Sarah and Grant bring impressive development experience, and their combined expertise in delivering successful, complex regeneration programmes in other areas of the country will be of huge benefit to Basingstoke.”

    Sarah Good was previously Head of Delivery and Regeneration at Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, while Grant Thornton was the Interim Manager for Regeneration and Economy at Havant Borough Council.

    For more information about the Basingstoke story, visit www.lovebasingstoke.co.uk/invest/the-basingstoke-story

  4. New affordable homes mean new opportunities

    Building site with rows of modular houses under constructionThis month saw some exciting news for the affordable housing sector and, in particular, for 14 housing associations who have won contracts to manage new build homes for Legal & General. With these newly announced management deals comes plenty of opportunities as we move towards 2020.

    L&G’s for-profit social housing provider, L&G Affordable Homes, will be investing in 3,500 homes a year – a much needed boost for affording housing stock.

    In the past decade the country’s ageing population has left many young people unable to get on to the property ladder as family homes are occupied by older couples or single people. This is partially responsible for the 1.1 million households on the housing waiting list in England.

    New homes are needed to close the gap. L&G’s innovative solution involves them building high quality, module homes on land they own and leasing these to affordable housing sector partners as an investment.

    Earlier this year it put out a tender for housing association partners to manage its properties. These have now been named.

    The first L&G affordable housing tenants have already moved into schemes in Falmouth, Cornwall, and in Croydon, London.

    L&G is not the only big investor in affordable housing schemes; more have seen the potential as it is estimated three million social homes will need to be built in the next 20 years.

    This presents an incredible opportunity for the affordable housing sector to win contracts for the management of more of these much needed schemes. And with that opportunity comes the necessity to consider additional resourcing within your business.

    We are already talking to clients about new investments in affordable housing and how this will affect their staffing needs.

    Back in 2016 we recruited the Managing Director at one of the country’s leading modular housing factories and in 2018 we also brought in a team leader there. The factory was among the first companies in the UK to use modular building for new homes and have now built more than 1,000.

    Both of the professionals we recruited came from outside the industry, but we identified their transferrable skills and supported them through the process to their new careers. They now play a key role in making the factory a success.

    If you are looking to recruit within your affordable housing business then we can help. Ocean Edge has nearly 20 years experience helping the affordable housing sector find the top candidates.

    We have teams in Southampton and London who are ready to help you recruit to your organisation. Find out more about our recruitment consultancy services or call 023 8000 1153 or email info@oceanedge.biz.