Pinnacle Group’s Claire Kober on why for-profits are key for housing supply

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported a stark warning from housing associations: “We can’t build houses.”  Some said they had ceased all new development for the coming financial year; others said the system was “maxed out”.

A perfect storm of high interest rates, inflation, low government grants and rising construction costs, as well as net zero and remediation obligations, means traditional registered providers (RPs) are struggling to build. Put simply, the finances do not stack up. In fact, housing associations say building new affordable homes is becoming financially impossible, which is worsening the downturn in supply.

Alongside this, demand continues to grow. In 2022, there were 1.2 million households on social housing waiting lists. Statistics released last month show this has increased by 6% to 1.29 million. In 2021-22 alone, 173,550 households who received a social letting were new to the social sector. Meanwhile, households in temporary accommodation now number more than 109,000, with costs exceeding £1.74bn in 2022-23. Something has got to give.

What the FT piece neglected to mention was that for-profit RPs (FPRPs) are moving into the space and helping to bridge the gap. There are 69 FPRPs registered with the Regulator of Social Housing – two of these owned by Pinnacle. With this number continuing to rise, albeit at a slower pace, it is clear institutional investment’s role in the sector is vital and will continue to grow. There is a real opportunity for traditional RPs to support this growth.

In 2023, I was part of a working group, drawn from the British Property Federation’s (BPF’s) Affordable Housing Committee, that developed a toolkit to provide greater understanding of partnership models for investors and RPs. Its aim was to boost the delivery of affordable homes by providing greater understanding of how investors and housing associations can collaborate.

Encouragingly, a recent Savills survey of traditional housing associations revealed that 89% would consider a partnership with a for-profit and 43% are already working with them in some way. The ever-growing pressure on housing associations to find alternative sources of investment is shifting attitudes among traditional RPs. Five years ago, an earlier survey found that only 62% of traditional housing associations thought that for-profits had any part to play in solving the housing crisis.

It is clear there is a rapidly growing recognition of the role equity has to play in unlocking financial capacity. This collaboration is set to be key in the sector’s future growth.

Capital funding

Rapidly scaling up long-term institutional investment in the sector is vital to boosting affordable housing supply. Analysis by L&G and the BPF reveals that £34bn is the additional capital funding needed per year to meet demand.

But if we are to scale up, we must create the conditions to encourage private capital to enter the sector. These include longer-term rent settlements, a review into subsidy provision and the creation of a level playing field between traditional RPs and their for-profit counterparts. New tax and grant initiatives would remove obstacles for closer collaboration between institutional investors and RPs.

As the gulf between supply and demand broadens, the housing crisis is set to take centre stage in the upcoming general election. It is already shaping up to be a key battleground, with the industry and communities patiently waiting to hear how parties intend to address the issue should they retain or take power. Whichever party wins, they need to adopt a pragmatic approach, acknowledging the role institutional investment has to play in delivering the affordable homes the country needs.

Claire Kober

Managing Director (Homes), Pinnacle Group

This article was originally featured in Property Week, on 1st May 2024.

Pinnacle expands affordable homes contract – becoming Legal & General Affordable Homes’ leading managing agent

Pinnacle Group is set to more than double the number of homes it manages on behalf of Legal & General Affordable Homes (LGAH) as it becomes the provider’s leading managing agent.

In recent weeks, the housing services provider has taken on management services for an additional 900 homes – a mix of affordable rented and shared ownership – spread across the Southwest and Midlands, including The Berries in Paignton, Devon and Cross Trees Park in Shrivenham, Oxfordshire.

Now, a further 40 shared ownership homes at a variety of locations across England will be managed by Pinnacle after we signed yet another agreement with LGAH. 

In total, Pinnacle will now be responsible for managing around 1800 homes for LGAH, with a pipeline of new properties expanding the portfolio to at least 2600 homes over the next few years.

“Having begun our relationship with LGAH back in 2019, we’re thrilled our reputation for providing market-leading housing services has resulted in us becoming their leading managing agent. With our teams already delivering on the ground for the first tranche of new homes, we now look forward to serving even more communities across the country as the additional homes come under our management.”

Claire Kober
Managing Director, Homes at Pinnacle Group

Pinnacle’s role will include tenant on-boarding and management, building compliance, defect management, maintenance and void management.

Pinnacle will also work in close collaboration with LGAH in advance of the handover stage, including liaising with relevant local authorities on nominations agreements and the production of welcome packs and home user guides for prospective tenants.

Shaun Holdcroft, Operations Director, Legal & General Affordable Homes, said: “Pinnacle is a trusted partner of Legal & General Affordable Homes, and we are proud to have formed a robust and long term relationship over the past five years. We look forward to working with the Pinnacle team as we continue to serve our current and future residents by providing high quality, affordable housing right across the country. Our aim is to better people’s lives and ensure that everyone has access to our vision of a sustainable and affordable home.”

As we approach our 30th anniversary, Pinnacle continues to see considerable growth, having recently announced a new instruction with Funding Affordable Homes as well as its first Brighton-based contract.

Pinnacle Group wins first Brighton contract to manage hotel apartments

Pinnacle Group has won its first Brighton-based contract to provide management services to residential apartments above an historic seafront hotel.

Kew Green Hotels, which owns and manages over 55 hotels across the world, has selected Pinnacle to manage sixty-four leasehold apartments in the building, which overlooks Brighton’s Grand Pier.

Kew Green Hotels’ portfolio covers several leading global brands including IHG Hotels & Resorts, Hilton and Marriott International, alongside managing several independent hotels and operating over 25 Holiday Inns under franchise across Europe.

The former Bedford Hotel, now Holiday Inn Brighton-Seafront, is an iconic landmark in the city, dating back to 1829. It counted Charles Dickens among its historic guests, though the current iteration of the building opened in 1967. Today, eleven floors of the hotel are used for luxury residential apartments.

"As we celebrate our thirtieth anniversary this year, we’re delighted to be expanding into Brighton, especially with such an iconic building.
This new contract represents yet another geographical expansion of our market-leading services, enabling us to deliver for local leaseholders while also exploring further opportunities in the region.
We look forward to working with our partner, Kew Green Hotels, to maintain high quality management standards and create a first-rate customer experience for the residents.” 

Alex Elsy
Director of Assets and Residential Management, Pinnacle Group

Alongside residential management of the apartments, which begins this week, Pinnacle will also work in close collaboration with the hotel team on shared building services.

This instruction is another example of Pinnacle’s vast experience in forging partnerships to deliver comprehensive community solutions. It will see the organisation deploy its unique expertise to respond effectively to client and customer requirements, particularly in complex residential developments.

Chris Dexter, CEO of Kew Green Hotels said, “We look forward to working with the team at Pinnacle, supporting them in delivering exceptional services to residents at Bedford Towers, complemented by the operational excellence delivered by our team at the Holiday Inn Brighton-Seafront. At Kew Green Hotels, we set ourselves apart by combining years of experience with innovative ideas to deliver outstanding hotel services, delivering exceptional returns for hotel owners and partners throughout our portfolio of independent hotels through to global brands.”

Shane Willmoth, Director of Property at Kew Green Hotels added, "We are pleased to be working with the team at Pinnacle, who demonstrate strong experience in the UK residential services sector with a robust infrastructure and employee community.”

Pinnacle Group secures new contract with Funding Affordable Homes

Pinnacle Group has been appointed by Funding Affordable Homes Housing Association (FAHHA), a for-profit Registered Provider and Homes England investment partner, to provide management services at a new-build home counties housing scheme.

Sterling Gardens, a development of 119 apartments, including 27 for social rent, 30 shared ownership and 62 for affordable rent, is built on brownfield land in Newbury.

Pinnacle will act as managing agent at the scheme, conducting a full range of tenancy and estate management. The contract marks a new relationship for Pinnacle, which currently provides housing management services across a portfolio of over 70,000 properties nationwide.

As it approaches its 30th anniversary, the Group continues to see considerable growth, with plans to announce further contract wins in the coming weeks.

Just Jus -

Laura Newey, Head of Partnerships - Homes, Pinnacle Group, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by FAHHA as their housing manager of choice on this exciting new scheme in Newbury.

‘Drawing on our experience of place-making, and place-keeping new communities on new build developments, we look forward to working with FAHHA to bring our market-leading services to the residents of Sterling Gardens.”

Paul Munday, CEO of FAHHA, said “FAHHA are hoping this project will be the start of a long-term relationship for the delivery of housing services by Pinnacle. Funding Affordable Homes (FAH), whose investment advisor is Edmond de Rothschild Real Estate Investment Management (EdR REIM), invested institutional capital alongside grant from Homes England to deliver 119 affordable homes from what was to be an entirely private sale development. The scheme demonstrates FAH’s commitment to providing tangible social benefit from its capital”.

Pinnacle Group strengthens board with appointment of high-profile Real Estate expert

Pinnacle Group has announced the appointment of highly respected Real Estate investment executive, Phil Clark, to its board.

Phil has over 30 years’ experience in senior and non-executive roles at a number of established businesses in the residential, commercial, regeneration, infrastructure and energy sectors.

Starting his career as a surveyor in the public sector, he later moved to Aviva Investors, establishing and leading its specialist property investment funds team.

Following this, he spent 14 years at Aegon Asset Management becoming Global Head of Real Assets Equity where he had responsibility for direct and indirect, listed and non-listed investment strategies.

In 2000, he established the Igloo Regeneration Partnership, believed to be the first property investment fund to be focused on sustainable housing-led regeneration.

Perry Lloyd, Pinnacle Group Chief Executive, said: ‘Phil is a highly respected, commercially-minded real investment leader who brings a wealth of knowledge and delivery expertise to the Pinnacle Group board. His years of industry experience supplement the current skills and experience of the board and I look forward to working with him as we drive the business forward.’

Phil Clark said: ‘By joining Pinnacle’s board, I am looking forward to supporting a market-leading organisation that is determined to break new ground, particularly in the residential real estate space. I’m confident that, with its socially-conscious, commercial culture and strong leadership, we’ll leverage additional partnerships to make a positive difference to the communities Pinnacle supports.’

Alongside his role at Pinnacle Group, Phil is also a non-executive director for several active Real Estate businesses and chairs the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ Commercial Property Forum.

In addition to his professional credentials, he has a passion for accessible education. He is Chair of the Academy of Real Assets, a social enterprise that introduces the real estate and real assets industry to students who would not typically consider it as a career.

ESG Impact Report 2023

Our latest report detailing a series of key ESG pledge successes has today been published, highlighting our progress across the four key pillars of our ESG Framework.


Today we're pleased to publish our latest ESG impact report highlighting the exceptional service and positive difference we make to every community we serve.

This report not only celebrates our achievements but acts as a marker on our journey to net zero. This represents a substantial challenge but is one we welcome, and are making significant strides towards.

Over the course of 2022-2023, we are pleased to announce that our total emissions per £1m revenue has reduced by 8.7% year-on-year to 85.48tCO2e.

Pinnacle continues to be a socially conscious and value-led business, this is demonstrated through the exceptional achievements of our people in protecting our planet, the social investments in our team and culture, and the communities we serve.

Read our ESG Impact Report 2023

Celebrating our people and culture at The Pinnacle Staff Awards 2023

To celebrate the success of our team, on December 12th we held our annual awards ceremony, this year renamed to The Pinnacle Impact Awards, held at the Victory Services Club in London.

More than 160 Pinnacle Group employees attended the event, which was held in recognition of the hard work of Pinnacle colleagues throughout 2023.

On the night, a total of 34 finalists were celebrated from across all areas of the business, and over seven different award categories, designed to champion both teams and individuals. The nominations were all made by colleagues, who were encouraged to submit those who uphold Pinnacle’s core values of trust, respect, involve, challenge and deliver excellence.

Peregrine Lloyd, Chief Executive at Pinnacle Group, said: "The Impact Awards show our appreciation for colleagues who have embodied the spirit of what it means to be a Pinnacle employee. This year, it was wonderful to celebrate such inspiring achievements and recognise those who have positively impacted the communities we serve." 

Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists and winners!

Employee of the Year​ - Abby Corker

One of the most highly anticipated awards of the evening is the Employee of the Year award. Each of our finalists is truly an asset to Pinnacle and we were thrilled to name Pinnacle Service Families, Helpdesk Team Leader Abby Corker, as the winner.

In her short time in the business, Abby has transformed the level of service and has also designed and written training packages for the service, supporting the team with coaching and mentoring as well as carrying out charity work, alongside challenging personal circumstances.

Congratulations to Abby and our other Employee of the Year Award finalists who have all achieved so much:

  • Jenny Davies - AMSG Assistant Soft Services Support Manager
  • Garry Price - FM Security Supervisor
  • Shenka Pitts - Service Delivery Helpdesk Administrator
  • Mark Varley - Supervisor on our FM Team
  • Adrian Przybylski - Lead Caretaker on one of our Total FM Schools contracts
  • Laurie Bone - FM Assistant Technical Services Manager
  • Helen Regan - Housing Support Officer, Homes
  • Hazel Joslin - Property Manager, Homes
  • Anjali Patel - Marketing Executive

Manager of the Year - Jo Kerry

Manager of the Year is awarded for exemplary leadership and consistent dedication to creating a positive work environment for their team, which is aligned to the Group’s values. This year's winner was Jo Kerry, Head of Customer Experience, at Pinnacle Service Families.

Jo joined Pinnacle Service Families 12 months ago and quickly set up an initiative to challenge individuals within PSF to support the reduction of issues, whilst also looking at the compensation process and introducing a new system to make compensation payments simple and quick.

Congratulations to Jo and our other Manager of the Year Award finalists:

  • Alexandra Agudelo - Area Housing Manager on our PFI Team
  • Paul Marshall - Hard FM Manager
  • Minal Hasiza - Contract Manager on our University of Hertfordshire contract
  • Graham Harbron - FM Contract Manager
  • Deborah Kiely - FM Contract Manager

Team of the Year - University of Hertfordshire

The Team of the Year is awarded for the demonstration of exceptional teamwork, innovation, and outstanding results that align with the Group’s values and objectives. A huge well done to the University of Hertfordshire team on winning this year's Team of the Year award.

Over the last 12 months, each team member has performed brilliantly both as individuals and as a team, fully embodying the Pinnacle values to achieve the position they are in today.

Congratulations to the University of Hertfordshire Team our other Team of the Year Award finalists:

  • Myatts Field North Grounds Maintenance Team
  • Toyota Deeside Team
  • Pinnacle Service Families North Region Housing Team
  • Ebbsfleet Academy Catering Team
  • Pinnacle Service Families, Central Region Housing Team

Partnership Impact Award - Michael Cooper

The Partnership Impact Award recognises individuals or teams whose collaborative efforts have demonstrated exceptional impact, fostering strong internal or external partnerships and driving mutual shared success. Congratulations to Michael Cooper, Lifecycle & Variation Manager, for the Leeds & Kirklees Schools contract on winning the award. 

The partnership relationship that Michael has developed at our PFI Schools in Leeds and Kirklees is nothing short of outstanding, delivering 4 major extensions / variations in the last 2 years alone. 

Thanks to Michael, Pinnacle Group is seen by the Local Authority as a trusted partner delivering cost effective solutions in the Public Private Partnership (PPP) field.

Congratulations to Michael and our other Partnership Impact Award finalists:

  • Ewelina Ciachorowska - Soft FM Team
  • Leicester Homes Team

Customer Impact Award - Julie Impey

The Customer Impact Award is given for outstanding customer service, exceptional client relationships, positive feedback, innovative solutions, and contributions that enhance customer satisfaction. This year's winner was Julie Impey, Community Manager, from our Homes division. 

Julie is truly at the front line of housing delivery, looking after a temporary accommodation facility called Newman Street. When new residents arrive, it is often a daunting experience, and Julie ensures everyone is warmly welcomed, offered clean bedding, kitchen utensils, clothes, and anything else that she has managed to get people or local businesses to donate.

Congratulations to Julie and our other Customer Impact Award finalists:

  • Michelle Lee - Catering Manager at our Leeds Schools contract
  • Pinnacle Service Families -  Compensation Team

Community Impact Award - Leeds Office Senior Management Team

The Community Impact Award is given for the demonstration of outstanding positive contributions to our communities, aligned with the Group’s ESG objectives. Well done to the Leeds Office Senior Management Team on winning the Community Impact Award.

This dedicated group of individuals have been at the forefront of community initiatives for many years, consistently demonstrating their commitment to improving the lives of those around them, while continuing to deliver our School's PFI contracts.

The Senior Management Team would be the first to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of their teams, but they are the ones that truly make all this happen, year after year. Their tireless efforts, genuine care, and unwavering dedication to making a difference has left an indelible mark on our local communities.

Congratulations to Leeds Office Senior Management and our other Community Impact Award finalists:

  • North London Schools Team
  • Sam Mason - Community Development Manager

Commercial Impact Award - Anna Le Jehan

The Commercial Impact Award is given for significant contribution to the Group’s commercial success, including impactful business insights and initiatives. Well done to Anna Le Jehan, General Counsel on receiving the Commercial Impact Award. 

Anna’s exceptional understanding of contract creation is instrumental in Pinnacle’s commercial success, from protecting the business, to ensuring it is profitable.

From the smaller companies who may have little experience in procuring services to the large investment companies with teams of lawyers, Anna acts with complete professionalism, an outstanding amount of patience, and makes herself available, no matter what time of the day, to answer everyone’s questions.

Congratulations to Anna and our other Commercial Impact Award finalists:

  • Recruitment Team
  • Elliott Tainton - Solutions Developer

Property Management 50 Awards Success for Leading Industry Influencer at Pinnacle Group

Rochelle Menville, Head of Operations (Homes) has been awarded a top spot in the 2023 Property Management 50 awards for leading the way in the property industry and being recognised as a top Influencer.

Rochelle is a CIH qualified Housing professional with over 18 years’ experience across social housing, leasehold and commercial management.

Rochelle said “It’s lovely to be nominated and be a Winner, and always nice to recognised for the work we do!”

Director of Assets and Residential, Alex Elsy, commented “I am so pleased that Rochelle that been recognised as an influencer in the 2023 PM50 Awards. It is well deserved recognition for all that she does both for Pinnacle Group and our clients, customers and the wider community.”

Congratulations to Rochelle and all of the other worthy winners. You can view the full list of winners here: 2023 Property Management 50 Winners

Combat Stress becomes Pinnacle Service Families’ charity partner

Pinnacle Service Families (PSF), part of Pinnacle Group, have chosen veterans’ mental health charity, Combat Stress, as their charity partner and will now embark on 12 months of awareness-raising and fundraising activities in aid of former service personnel with complex mental health issues.

Over the course of the next year, PSF is aiming to raise both awareness and vital funds to help support veterans on their road to recovery, as well as linking in with Combat Stress’ work to help veterans access its programme of career and self-employment coaching.

PSF is contracted with the Ministry of Defence to provide administration services for 49,000 service family homes, putting military families at the heart of what they do. With many of their own staff connected to the Armed Forces – either as partners, veterans or reservists – they understand the challenges individuals and families face. Some of the PSF team have themselves benefitted from Combat Stress’ support as they’ve battled mental health issues transitioning to civilian life.

As part of their broader work to support ex-service personnel, PSF provides a career and self-employment coaching programme, with tailored one-to-one mentoring sessions for ex-personnel, spouses, partners and their families.

Perry Lloyd, Pinnacle Group Chief Executive, whose brother had a long career in the Army and retired as a Colonel, said: “Having close family in the Armed Forces has given me a level of insight into the lifestyle and pressure families are under. Personnel put their lives on the line for us, so it’s right that we do whatever we can to provide the best service. I’m proud that we have a dedicated team who share my ambition to not only fulfil the obligations of the contract, but to go over and above in all that they do to support service families.

“It’s easy to write a cheque but – through a lasting collaboration with Combat Stress – we really want to support families more broadly to tackle the issues they face.”

Garry Burns, Senior Head of Corporate Partnerships and Events at Combat Stress, said: “On behalf of Combat Stress and the veterans we treat, I would like to thank Pinnacle Service Families for choosing us as their charity of the year.

“As the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, we provide specialist clinical treatment and support to veterans with complex mental health issues arising from military service. The support of staff at Pinnacle Service Families in raising money for, and awareness of, our charity will ensure we can help more veterans across the UK to rebuild their lives.”

Pinnacle Group’s Claire Kober on why BTR deserves more attention from Whitehall

The housing landscape is undergoing a rapid shift, and if the prime minister wants to stand any chance of meeting his housing target, much more attention must be paid to alternative development models, including build to rent (BTR).

For many, traditional home ownership is either completely out of reach or something for much later in life. In 1960, the average first-time buyer could have expected to unlock the door to their first home at 23 years old. Now, market analysis shows that they will be stepping on to the property ladder in their mid-30s.

Societal shifts, the cost-of-living crisis, rocketing house prices, rising mortgage rates and a lack of suitable accommodation mean people are spending longer in the rental market, which is pushing up demand. Coupled with an increasing awareness of renters’ rights and a post-Covid-19 emphasis on the quality of accommodation rather than simply location, renters are no longer happy spending their days in substandard properties.

When the wait to get on to the housing ladder is likely a long one, the quality of a rental home takes on new significance; it’s not just a place to lay your head.

This is where BTR comes in. Research from Savills has found that investment activity in the sector grew to a record high of £1.26bn in the second quarter of this year. The sector is seeing significant growth and backing. And the government should take note.

Offering flexibility and quality services, BTR presents a tangible alternative to the conventional approach. To make it work at scale, BTR models need to be refined to provide investors with more certainty, while delivering homes that genuinely resonate with residents’ needs, budgets and aspirations.

The sheer demand is evident. This year, our average occupancy rates soared to 98%. We’ve witnessed a staggering growth from managing approximately 300 units in 2021 to nearly 1,000 in 2023.

Incorporating digital tools is instrumental to achieving positive results. Today more than 60% of residents are engaging apps as their preferred means of communicating with their property manager. From both a management and investment perspective, this contributes to the insight and data that drive effective decision-making.

But the properties need to be built to meet the demand – and that means mid-market single-family rental properties, not just the highly amenitised multi-family homes synonymous with the BTR sector.

The statistics from the latest English Housing Survey are sobering. Over the past three years, 5% of privately rented households experienced overcrowding. Only 62% of private renters expressed intentions to purchase a home in the foreseeable future, primarily due to affordability concerns. These numbers underline the acute need to bolster the UK’s BTR inventory with a budget-friendly offer.

The prime minister has just recommitted the government to build one million new homes by the next election, with a renewed focus on cities and brownfield. But he won’t hit this unless the government gets real about the challenge and focuses on the right areas.

To address the UK’s housing shortage, BTR must surely play a pivotal role. It melds stability and certainty for residents, professional management and, combined with discount market rent, homes at different price points in the market.

With economic growth fundamental to tackling the cost-of-living crisis and new rental homes needed to offset the 151,000 buy-to-let disposals last year, it’s high time policymakers acknowledged the transformative potential of the sector and act on it by supporting BTR initiatives that plug the supply gap. As the housing crisis continues, it could be a real solution to ensuring every UK resident has a place to call home.

Claire Kober, Managing Director (Homes), Pinnacle Group

This article was originally featured in Property Week, on the 11th September.

Groundbreaking Eco Pod Build in Huddersfield

A fantastic new eco classroom space designed and built in SEND school, using cutting-edge technology to create a unique space for students to learn about sustainable living.

The team in Kirklees, where Pinnacle provides total FM services to three Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) schools in a 25 year contract on behalf of Kirklees Council, has completed a new standalone eco-building at Castle Hill School.

The SEND school is for students ages 3 to 19, supporting and educating children with complex special needs. This new impressive space will allow for a teaching space that is suitable for students to learn about green objectives and the value of recycling.

Led by Michael Cooper, Lifecycle and Variation Manager at Pinnacle Group, the collaborative team worked with architects, William Saunders, and specialist builders, BlokBuild, to build the new classroom structure using sustainable modern methods of construction (MMC), environmentally friendly construction techniques.  

The build was designed using a Passivhaus methodology, which is a performance-based set of design criteria which create very low energy buildings. Some of the environmentally friendly features of the new space include; solar panels, a living roof, a heat recovery system, and a unique multi-faceted curved lattice wall with thermal wood cladding. 

The mechanical and electrical installations have been designed to provide an energy-efficient building and to include reducing loads, selecting systems that make the most effective use of ambient energy sources and using efficient equipment and effective control strategies. An integrated design approach has been adopted to ensure that the architectural elements and the engineering systems work effectively together.

Electrical systems installed:

  • High efficiency LED light fittings with intelligent automatic controls.
  • Photovoltaic electricity generation.

Mechanical systems installed:

  • Eco water heater with smart technology giving high energy efficiency.
  • Electric LST fan heaters with intelligent low energy consuming EC motors.
  • High efficiency energy recovery ventilation unit with night time summer building heat purge facility.

The building project, which was featured on the latest series of Channel 4’s Grand Design, was delivered on time and within budget, with the installation being under two weeks during term-time, without disrupting staff or students at the live SEND school site.  The school and the students are delighted with their new classroom space.

Michael Cooper said of the project, “School are delighted with the completed project, this will be their flagship building proudly situated at the front of the school site, the students are further overjoyed as the building also includes superb views over the ancient Castle Hill monument.

Steve Perren, Principal at Castle Hill School commented, “We are also grateful to Pinnacle for collaborating towards success.

The innovative project has been recently shortlisted for three categories at the Structural Timber Awards for:

  • Project of the Year
  • Installer of the Year (Blokbuild)
  • Product Innovation award (Blokbuild)


The project has also shortlisted on one of the awards for Education Estates:

  • Client of the year

Social Impact in Affordable Housing Through a Registered Provider and Residents’ Eyes

Originally featured in Local Government Chronicle,  written by Ann Xu, Portfolio and Impact Manager at CBRE Investment Management. 

Institutional investors measuring social impact in UK affordable housing is a nascent endeavour. CBRE Investment Management (CBRE IM) has one of the long­est track records in this space and yet it is still only around five years old.

Ann Xu, Portfolio and Impact Manager at CBRE IM

In 2018 CBRE IM developed a social impact framework which represents the governing principals of how the CBRE UK Affordable Housing Fund invests. This framework continues to evolve.

Fund managers often focus on quan­titative metrics such as internal rates of return and yields; as an impact fund, CBRE IM has prioritised the delivery of resident outcomes alongside finan­cial returns by partnering with best-in-class registered providers. Social impact is therefore best illustrated through residents’ stories, which illuminate the human side of the affordable housing investment thesis.

With this in mind, we sat down with Kate Donovan from Pinnacle Group, which manages homes exclusively on behalf of Pinnacle Spaces, a registered provider of social housing and part of Pinnacle Group. Across the UK, Pinnacle Group provides comprehensive landlord services including lettings, repairs and estate, tenancy and leasehold management to over 65,000 homes.

Lewisham Exchange, London

Pinnacle Spaces operates most of CBRE IM’s London affordable housing portfolio, and we heard directly from Kate about Pinnacle’s experiences of working with institutional capital in the affordable housing sector, impact measurement and the experiences of residents.

Kate Donovan, Head of Operations – Homes Division, Pinnacle Group

Affordable housing has evolved, but motivations remain the same

Kate has an almost 30-year career in social housing. She has worked across local authorities, housing associations and for the past three years as head of operations (homes division) at Pinnacle Group, including two years working directly with CBRE IM’s UK affordable housing team.

“I have seen a lot of changes in the sec­tor, but the drivers remain the same: to provide high-quality accommodation for residents with great customer service,” she says. “In my two years working with CBRE IM, no two days are ever the same.”

Pinnacle manages a mixture of schemes on behalf of CBRE IM. These new developments include two buildings in Lewisham – with 67 and 43 affordable units – a 50-unit scheme in Slough and a 245-unit scheme in Abbey Wood. “It involves making sure we are on top of any issues, helping residents settle into their new homes and building relationships in the local community,” Kate says.

Pinnacle is also responsible for mobi­lising new schemes. This involves pro­curing energy suppliers, working with local authorities to ensure section 106 agreement compliance, and with hous­ing allocation teams to ensure properties are appropriately let to residents on their waiting lists.

“It is quite challenging,” says Kate. “Every scheme has different pressures. Last week we signed up 33 tenants. Not only did we have to sign all residents’ con­tracts, give them the keys and an introduc­tion to their property, we also completed welfare benefit checks and affordability assessments for all residents.”

Lewisham Exchange, London
Abbey Place, London

Securing apartments 'feels like winning the lottery'

Kate says the most rewarding parts of her role are when launching schemes. She recalls a few examples from Meadow House in Lewisham.

“Seeing residents’ faces when they see their new properties for the first time at viewings is priceless,” Kate says. “Recently we saw two women literally singing, danc­ing and cheering. They hugged me and the developer. For many residents, securing a new-build apartment is like winning the lottery because many have been on wait­ing lists for years.”

Residents talk about their lives previ­ously being on hold, Kate says. “When residents secure one of our properties it is an incredibly emotional moment. It allows them to finally put down roots in a community and build a better life for themselves and their fami­lies. One of our residents had previously been living in temporary accommodation for a decade – always on the move and with no permanent home. Now she plans to finally start her own jewellery business.”

The stability also supports working families raise children with a stable edu­cation – parents know their kids can go to schools in the same community for the duration of school life.

Kate recalls the story of another resi­dent, a 21-year-old man who had been in hospital for months suffering with sickle cell disease. “This young man came with his nurse from Lewisham Hospital and couldn’t believe how lucky he was to be offered such an amazing flat. He was espe­cially pleased as even though the heating wasn’t on during the viewing, the flat felt warm, which is crucial with his condition. His nurse said the flat would make such a difference to the quality of his life.”

In another story of life transformation, Kate remembers a resident who had been living in temporary accommodation since she was 17, when she came out of the care system. “She is now 27 and has suffered domestic abuse in the past and has sig­nificant mental health issues,” Kate says. “This lady was crying with tears of joy when she saw the flat, which she said felt safe and somewhere she could feel settled to enjoy her new life.”

Affordability is paramount

Kate says many residents cannot believe they are able to afford these units because the standard of the finish is very high while rents – as specified in the section 106 agreement – are below the local hous­ing allowance rate.

“There is no trade-off in housing qual­ity under the capped rental levels,” she says. These are new build flats, with the latest technology in heating systems and wifi, and are well ventilated and insulated, crucial for low income earners during the cost of living crisis.

Abbey Place, London

The commitment to affordability is paramount. “The housing product resi­dents receive is high-end compared with existing housing stock from traditional housing associations and local authori­ties,” Kate adds. “Testament to that is the acceptance rate of almost 100% from viewings.”

Working with institutional capital

“I had never worked with institutional investors before working with CBRE IM, so I did not know what to expect,” Kate says. “The similarities to working with housing associations and local authori­ties are a driving ambition to provide quality homes with excellent customer service, but institutional investors go about achieving these goals with a fresh approach unburdened by ideas of what social housing traditionally means.

“CBRE IM works at a much faster pace, is more agile, less bureaucratic, and introduced a more collaborative relation­ship. Institutional investors are also much more data-driven.”

She says the clearest example of this is in relation to sustainability. “We collect a huge amount of data – such as meter read­ings on energy consumption. Data is an incredibly important driver of decisions for institutional investors. In the tenancy agreements, green clauses are included to ensure data can be collected.”

Kate says aligned values is the most important driver of the success of Pinnacle’s relationship with CBRE IM. “Our ESG [environmental, social and governance] strategy aligns with CBRE IM’s. I remember a conversation about our mutual values in the early days. We discussed working with a sense of purpose to make a difference in residents’ lives and building lasting communities. We share those motivations deeply.

Pinnacle Group's ESG Pillars

“To do that, you need to start with what residents want: good quality accommo­dation, affordable rents, and a landlord that listens and responds. They also want to feel part of the community and be able to contact a person they know if problems arise. If these needs are met, they will be satisfied tenants.”

She continues: “We provide residents with knowledge of key local services – from schools to the doctor’s surgery, lei­sure facilities and community hubs of interest, as well as location of property managers.

“We are experienced in developing relationships within local communities and managing mixed communities. We have a tenant app that coordinates and promotes community services and infor­mation. The app helps drive performance – to be best in class and upper quartile in the market, but we look beyond compari­sons with registered providers to custom­er excellence across all industries.”

Evolving KPIs

Performance measurement is crucial to delivering on these expectations. CBRE IM and Pinnacle have agreed key perfor­mance indicators (KPIs) which include measuring rent collection timing (at around 97% for Q1 2023) and response times to emails and complaints.

Kate says: “We look to understand our residents through the data we collect, including regular in-app ‘pulse’ surveys, which capture emerging issues in real time. The KPIs continue to evolve over time, based on data insights.”

Pinnacle’s KPI targets align with CBRE IM’s ‘tenure blind’ approach, designed to provide an equal high-qual­ity service to all residents, regardless of rental level and tenure. “Pinnacle listens first-hand to what residents need and we then have an open dialogue with CBRE IM. Investors need to choose a good man­aging agent that aligns with their values. The level of satisfaction in our ‘move in’ surveys is more than 90%, reflecting our responsiveness, engagement, participa­tion, as well as housing quality.

“At the start of our working relation­ship with CBRE IM, it was a case of learn­ing together, setting a collaborative tone which has since matured. As our teams have increased in knowledge and experi­ence together, we better understand what is important to residents and the most effective ways to mobilise a building, help­ing to fine-tune processes.

“Our teams have since expanded, improving collective capabilities, execu­tion and service delivery, adding to the effectiveness of our working relationship and outcomes for residents.”

CBRE IM continues to see increasing institutional capital appetite for invest­ment in the social and affordable hous­ing sector, as the social impact becomes clearer. Hearing residents’ stories and learning the impact of affordable housing on people’s lives drives our motivation to continue to invest in affordable and sus­tainable homes across the UK.

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