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Unlocking the future of housing delivery with Red Door Ventures

24 June 2019 in Housing and Mayor

Deborah Heenan confirmed as permanent Chief Executive


Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz has welcomed the permanent appointment of Deborah Heenan as Chief Executive of Red Door Ventures (RDV), the housing company owned by Newham Council that is supporting the Mayor in delivering her promise of more affordable homes for the borough.
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Deborah is joining RDV full-time from Newham Council where she is major projects director in the business and growth team. She has also been interim chief executive at RDV since November 2018.

Red Door Ventures was set up in 2014 but has been repurposed by Mayor Fiaz to shift its focus from delivering homes at market rents to ensuring at least 50 per cent of all homes it builds are genuinely affordable.

Miss Heenan is a housing and urban regeneration specialist, experienced in driving innovative approaches to development as well as leading significant housing delivery programmes.

She was previously chief executive at Swindon Borough Council’s wholly owned regeneration company where she transformed one of the largest council-owned housing sites in the country from unviable to commercially deliverable. The first phase of high quality work created significant returns for the council. Her other major legacy at Swindon was the transformation of Brunel’s railway works into innovation and higher education hubs.

Prior to that, as a senior civil servant, she led the housing team at the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, driving improvements in public service delivery at the heart of Whitehall. She also devised and ran the cross-government Capital and Assets Programme. A secondment as strategy director with the Berkeley Group, one of the country’s leading housing developers, gave her invaluable insights that are now being put to good use. Miss Heenan is also a Professor of Practice awarded by the University of Wales and is keen to promote apprenticeships and continuous learning within RDV and beyond.

Mayor Fiaz said: “This is an exciting time for Deborah to join Red Door Ventures on a permanent basis. She was selected from a strong list of candidates following a rigorous recruitment campaign.

“Red Door is one of the principle mechanisms helping me to deliver my pledge to build 1,000 genuinely affordable homes in the borough by 2022. It has an important role in my plan to step into the housing sector to fix a broken system that isn’t delivering enough genuinely affordable homes for people fast enough. I am looking forward to working with Deborah, RDV chair Nigel Taylor, and the rest of the team to accelerate my ambitious targets.”

The majority of homes promised by the Mayor will be built by Red Door Ventures on a mix of sites. Work on building the first 227 properties at 11 sites is already under way, supported by the Mayor of London after Newham made a successful bid to the Building Council Homes for Londoners programme and was awarded £107million in grant funding.

Miss Heenan said: “It is a privilege to run a council housing company with serious political and shareholder drive behind it. RDV is already on site building homes that residents can afford and be proud to live in. Our next phase is to mature from start-up to a major home provider for Newham residents. The mandate and support from the Mayor and the council is clear and RDV is determined to deliver.”

Nigel Taylor, Chair of Red Door Ventures said: “I am delighted that Deborah has secured the Red Door Ventures chief executive role on a permanent basis. Deborah cares passionately about the company’s mission and has clearly been inspired by the Mayor’s leadership in repurposing of the company. Affordable housing is a critical need in the Newham community, where decades of under-supply have created major problems. Mayor Fiaz has rightly challenged Red Door to deliver affordable housing at scale and I know Deborah and her team will relish the opportunity to meet those challenges head on.”