For 60 years people have come to Mount Green with one primary need – a place to call home. We have been meeting people’s housing needs since our inception in 1962.
Take a look at our timeline to read our story across the last 60 years.
At the start of the decade the Government introduced the new Housing Act and £25 million in funding to increase the supply of affordable housing. This was in response to a declining number of private rental homes.
In 1962 Mount Green was officially registered as a housing association. Archives show that we were one of only 27 groups providing affordable housing at the time. Setup by eight members, we were named after one of them; Monty Green.
We welcomed our first residents in 1966, who were moving into the Crescent Estate in Sidcup.
Two years later, we fully completed the Crescent Estate, alongside our Reigate estate and Graylands in Woking, which were planned and developed by Bunting Estates (owned by founder Monty Green). Between them, they provided more than 300 affordable homes.
Initially we were managed almost entirely by volunteers. The volunteer team was organised by Peter Cotterill from an office in Woking and supported by co-founder Elizabeth Richardson.
By the 70s many of the original Board members were replaced by new members including Stella Cunliffe, Robert Hunter, and Kenneth Burns who each brought specialist skills and strong local connections.
In 1974 the Housing Corporation, set up by Government, started to make its presence felt in the sector. This, coupled with the availability of housing association grant, led to Brian Richardson quitting his commercial work and becoming Mount Green’s first full-time Director, alongside his wife Elizabeth as Housing Manager.
At the end of the 70s, Mount Green bought the shooting range and a large composting area from St John’s, a well-established private school in Leatherhead, which needed to raise money to replace its kitchens. The St John’s development was one of our most successful early developments, providing 60 homes. The scheme was one of the first in the country to provide mixed housing provision, which included starter homes, sheltered housing and accommodation for those with physical and learning disabilities.
Developing the St John’s estate provided us with an opportunity to create a purpose-built office for Mount Green. It was also the start of an ongoing partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Foundation, a charity specialising in the support of people with disabilities. The Foundation worked closely with our team to help design the St John’s apartments to ensure they were suitable for residents with disabilities.
At the start of the 80s, new grant availability allowed us to expand into developing a new tenure of homes, formerly known as sheltered housing, which was viewed as the future of housing for older people. The first scheme of this type we opened was Beecholme, comprising of 50 homes, which was later followed by Downside in Woking, Highwood in Reigate, and Church Close in Milford.
In 1982, the regeneration of the St John’s estate in Leatherhead was completed.
Later in the decade, our Director Brian Richardson was involved in establishing the Surrey Federation of Housing Associations, a group of 30 smaller housing providers who met regularly to share good practice and advice.
Later in the 80s, six of the group members: Shere Cottage Builders Society; Alice Rushton Housing Association; Epsom Deanery Association; Leatherhead and District Housing Association; Leatherhead (Mole Valley) Housing Association and Godalming District Housing Association, decided to join Mount Green.
Mount Green was awarded The Civic Shield Award for energy-saving homes.
In 1989, the second phase of our Greylees scheme in Godalming, the last of Mount Green’s developments funded using the old system of housing grant, was completed.
As we grew, Brian and Elizabeth felt it was important, in addition to building new homes, to make improvements to our earlier developments. In 1989, pitched roofs were added to maisonette blocks in three of the original family estates and new window and insulation programmes were also delivered.
Geoffrey Hall retired as Chair of our Board in 1995, after 33 years of service.
A year later in 1996, Downside Orchard in Woking was completed, including three bungalows that were adapted for residents with disabilities.
In 1999, both Brian and Elizabeth Richardson stepped down from their roles after 37 years, feeling that Mount Green needed a change of direction. Having been extremely popular with residents, they left the organisation in a well-managed and financially sound position.
In the same year, Nick Ronald joined Mount Green as Chief Executive. On a handover tour with Brian and Elizabeth, Nick visited a small estate in the picturesque village of Shere. It was here that he learned that Handa Bay, Lord of the Manor of Shere, had proposed providing the land to Mount Green to develop affordable homes.
Working with Shere Manor Estate, Shere Parish Council and Guildford Borough Council, plans were developed to deliver eight rural homes.
In the noughties, housing, and particularly affordable housing, rose up the political agenda, influenced by the Labour Government elected in 1997 (New Labour) and a new era for Mount Green began.
Early in the decade, we moved office, rebranded, and formed Mount Green’s first formal Senior Management Team. Our first computer systems for housing management and accounting were put in place and we also published our first resident newsletter and Annual Report.
2002 saw us begin a modernisation programme that aimed to refurbish 350 homes and our first rural development of eight homes at Pathfields in Shere was completed, with a second phase in the pipeline. This was also the year of the first Mount Green resident conference, with 20 per cent of residents able to attend.
We borrowed our first large scale finance facility to fund growth and reinvestment in 2003, along with launching our first pilot computer training initiative for older residents.
Midway through the decade, The Decent Homes Standard was introduced, setting minimum quality standards for housing associations. Tighter regulation in the form of a star system rating also came into force, alongside compulsory surveys of residents and publishing of results. Against a backdrop of increased competition from the private sector and rising house prices, borrowing became cheaper and grant was readily available for new affordable homes.
In 2004, the Cricketts Hill development in Shere was opened on the site of an old allotment and 30 flats and bungalows were completed at Norwood Close and Champion Down in Effingham. We also opened Barnes Wallis Close, named after the man himself, at an event attended by his son Christopher Wallis.
A year later, we introduced a new environmental budget, with residents put in charge of how it would be spent.
Mount Green met the Government’s Decent Homes standard in 2008, two years ahead of target. In the same year, our team welcomed the Mayor of Guildford to open phase two of our rural Pathfields development in Shere.
As the noughties came to an end, a downturn in the world economy, a collapse in confidence in the housing market, and the new coalition government brought several challenges for the housing sector. To reduce national debt, severe cuts were made to public funding. This included a reduction in capital grant contributions and a move to homes being built using revenue, not capital.
Early in the decade, we acquired over 250 homes from Viridian Housing and Origin Housing, enabling us to refinance and increase our loan facility for development and reinvestment. We also started to hold fun days on our family estates to encourage our communities to come together.
In 2010, Mount Green was selected as a partner for the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) framework through the Respond Consortium. We also completed and welcomed residents to our new development of 35 homes at Howard Close, Ashtead.
Ray Soanes, who became a Mount Green resident in 1974, was asked to take the role of Chair of our Audit & Risk Committee in 2011, in recognition of her considerable contribution over the years. Ray was the first resident to join Mount Green’s Board and went on to start the first Residents’ Forum and become an active member of the Reigate Estate Residents’ Association.
The introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’ and a cap on the maximum benefit that could be claimed in 2013 created further challenges for housing associations. At Mount Green we were quick to adapt, strengthening our Board to ensure we had the right skills to manage us through the climate and restructuring the organisation to place greater emphasis on neighbourhood services and income management. We also set up our first Resident Scrutiny Panel, led by residents, to help improve and develop services.
In 2018, the Mayors of Farnham and Waverley opened Mount Green’s first open market sales development, Langham Court, in Farnham. We were also shortlisted for four housing sector awards, with Samantha Herelle named Professional of the year (under 10,000 homes) at the Women in Housing Awards.
We bought a new office on Bridge Street in Leatherhead.
In 2020, Nick Ronald stepped down as Chief Executive after 20 years, with Bill Flood appointed to the role, making Bill only our third Chief Executive in almost 60 years!
A year later, we launched a new Resident Committee Group (RCG), a paid opportunity for residents to provide a crucial link between Mount Green’s Board and our residents.
In 2022, we launched our new Corporate Plan setting out our roadmap for creating the foundations for residents to thrive. We were also appointed as Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s management partner for its first social housing scheme in 20 years.
Our team supported residents through the cost-of-living crisis, with Mount Green’s Welfare Benefit Officers supporting residents to maximise their income. We also introduced a new hardship fund for those most in need.