The chief executive of Homes England is to leave the organisation – tasked with delivering the government’s 300,000 new homes a year target – at the end of next month and without a permanent successor in place.
Nick Walkley’s departure will come exactly four years after he became chief of what was then the Homes and Communities Agency. In a Twitter post this morning, the former council chief executive suggested he did not have a new role to take up when he steps down from Homes England, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Homes England chair Peter Freeman, who took up his post in October, said Walkley had demonstrated “outstanding leadership in building a dynamic, commercial delivery agency”.
Freeman, who co-founded the property development firm Argent, added: “The country faces some crucial choices about how we emerge from the pandemic and Homes England stands ready to support the government in stimulating economic recovery and increasing housing supply.”
The government has set a target of increasing housebuilding in England to the level of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, in part to make up for significant under-delivery in recent decades.
Statistics in November suggested there were 243,770 net additions to the nation’s housing stock in 2019-20, an increase of 1% on the previous year. But the figures – which also include new homes converted from offices and other previously-existing buildings – predate the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Homes England extended a deadline for participants to take advantage of the government’s Help to Buy equity-loan scheme, in recognition of delays in the construction sector caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Walkley noted in Homes England’s 2019-20 Annual Report, which was published in November, that the economic consequences of Covid-19 in the second half of 2020-21 and beyond would “no doubt have implications for the housing market, the sector and Homes England and its mission”.
Walkley, whose current salary is bracketed at £215,000-£219,999 in the latest Cabinet Office High Earners List, said in a statement today that he was proud of what Homes England had achieved under his leadership.
“I’d like to thank my colleagues and our many industry partners for their dedication and support,” he said.
“My successor will find an organisation brimming with talent, purpose and heart. Homes England is well-positioned to support the country’s economic recovery and I wish my colleagues the very best.”
A Homes England spokesperson said Walkey was leaving “for personal reasons”.
In a subsequent Twitter post, Walkley suggested that he did not have a new role to take up when he leaves Homes England.
Homes England said its chief investment officer, Gordon More, would act as interim chief executive on Walkley’s departure, “supported by Lynda McMullan, chief financial officer, and an executive team drawn from the public and private sectors”.