Petersfield Housing Association was founded in 1973 on the initiative of the local Council of Churches who were looking to find ways of providing homes for those who could not afford the high property prices in East Hampshire. The same is very true today.
The Board has always comprised of local people with the interests of the local community at heart and as such their area of activity has been largely restricted to Petersfield and the immediately surrounding villages. Starting with no properties in 1973 by 2007 the numbers in ownership had grown to 257. The Board is anxious to continue this expansion.
Although PHA is a founder member of the Wayfarer Consortium it is also completely independent and wishes to remain so. PHA is also a “preferred partner” of East Hants District Council.
We are proud that great emphasis is placed on the fact that being a small association enables the housing staff to be close to the tenants. Our office operates an “open door” policy and no appointments are needed to speak directly to any member of staff.
Emphasis has also has been placed on maintaining the Association’s properties to a high standard. The Association is strong financially. Prudent financial management over the years leaves sufficient funds available to meet the objectives of the Business Plan.
The History of the Housing Association
In 1973 Petersfield & District Council of Churches agreed that a housing association should be set up to provide housing ‘principally for young married couples who, without any children, had little chance of being housed by the local authority’. It is said that at the first meeting 13 people each put a green £1.00 note on the table and became the first shareholders. In the spring of that year the Council of Churches gave formal approval to the establishment of Petersfield Housing Association.
James Willson, a retired head teacher, was an indefatigable fund raiser for the association and he was responsible for the foundation of the enviable reserves upon which the association continues to build and holds today. This enabled PHA to enter the housing market to buy land and/or buildings.
The fund raising was done largely through public social events organised by a separate committee comprising at least one member from each church. The principal events were, a sit-down lunch in the Community Centre with a guest speaker of note, the food being prepared and served by a noble army of ladies to a hall packed to capacity. Another was the Christmas Carol singing in the Market Square to the music of the Salvation Army Band and the vocal support of the Welsh Society, with the Rotary Club providing soup.
James Willson raised money for the Association whenever and however he could. Pink and Greenshield stamps, along with old newspapers, were collected. Engraved glass paperweights, made by (Harold) Fred Thomson of St Peter’s, were sold. Collecting boxes in the shape of model houses were made. By the end of 1973, £139 had been given to the Association; £1,950 lent to it with further promises of £450 to be paid in January 1974. Also deeds of covenant were signed to produce £54.00 gross per annum. PHA was here to stay!
For the first decade of its life PHA was run and managed by a group of volunteers. Staff were employed only for specific tasks or to deal with the increased volume of paper work as the stock grew from 2 to nearly 40.
The Association’s first office base was a small room rented from the Voluntary Centre at the back of Winton House in the High Street. In 1988 the Winton House Trust agreed to build an extension to the back of the house with two rooms for the use of the Association.
In 1994 the office was moved to larger rented accommodation at 28 The Spain. In 1999 a 3 floor building plus basement at 32 Lavant Street was purchased. By November of that year the ground floor had been converted to provide four rooms as offices. In March 2000 five flats for rent, one in the basement and four on the floors above the offices, were completed.
By 1993 the association managed about 100 dwellings. Today the stock has grown to nearly 300 dwellings. The team of staff has now grown to four full time and three part time members.
The achievements in the years since the Association was founded certainly justify the faith and leadership given by the then members of the Council of Churches. But this has only been made possible by the support of so many people both within and outside the churches in the area. This is the result principally of the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who over the years pushed forward development, sustaining them and the residents once they were built.
Nowadays our residents are served by a dedicated team of staff.