Boss with ‘extensive experience and strong sense of social purpose’ to be chair of council’s housing company

March 20, 2024

Aequus, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s housing company, has appointed housing association boss Sally Higham as its new non-executive chair. 

The council said Sally, pictured, who lives in Bath, would bring a wealth of experience from the commercial and housing sectors to the role.

She will take over on 7 May when current chair Charles Gerrish steps down at the end of his term of office after eight years at the helm.

For the past two-and-a-half years Sally has been group chair of Worcestershire-based Rooftop Housing Group. Formed in 1994, it has around 7,000 homes across South Worcestershire and North Gloucestershire.

Alongside this, she sits on the advisory committee of the Growth Impact Fund, the national organisation offering social purpose organisations investment, and support entrepreneurs to grow their impact and sales.

She is also managing director of In a Box Services, a Corsham-based provider of business and finance support for start-ups and growing businesses. 

In a Box Services describes her as a “senior business leader with a strong sense of social purpose, a strategist committed to supporting leaders of business start-ups, fast-growing businesses, social housing, social projects and charities to grow, and with significant advisory relationships across the public, private and third sectors”.

The Aequus Group was set up by Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) in 2016 to provide affordable sustainable homes to meet the housing needs of local residents and help finance council services by developing, delivering, owning and managing property for both the rental and homeowner market on behalf of the council.

It has since delivered more than 220 new homes in Bath and North East Somerset alongside meeting its business plan performance to generate £1m a year of income that supports the council’s frontline services, with around 1,000 more homes planned for the future. 

Its new homes include 95 apartments at Riverside View in Keynsham and 52 private rented sector units, primarily in Bath city centre and mainly let to city workers and young professionals. 

All Aequus developments are designed to tackle the climate emergency by reducing carbon emissions, with new build homes EPC A-rated. A number are electric only, benefit from additional insulation and a heat recovery ventilation system to reduce energy use.

Other energy efficiency measures used on its homes include solar panels, which have resulted in a minimum 50% reduction in energy costs.

Ahead of taking up the role, Sally and B&NES leader Cllr Kevin Guy visited the latest social housing properties redeveloped by Aequus, pictured.

The flats on Bath’s Westgate Street have been refurbished and will be used to provide social housing for people who are currently homeless and residing in temporary accommodation.

 Cllr Guy said: “With her extensive experience and proven leadership abilities, I am confident that Sally will make a significant contribution to the company's continued growth and success.

“I look forward to working closely with her as Aequus and the council embark on an exciting new chapter to deliver more market and affordable housing both within Bath and North East Somerset and in partnership with our neighbouring authorities.

“I also want to thank Charles Gerrish for his hard work, commitment and service, which has been greatly valued.” 

He said Sally would play a pivotal role in guiding the strategic direction of Aequus, fostering innovation, and upholding the core values and objectives of the B&NES, as its shareholder.

Sally added: "I am pleased to be joining Aequus and to have the opportunity to help realise the company’s potential for growth and innovation. 

“I look forward to working with the council and the team at Aequus to both develop and deliver more homes to the area."

The group is made up of a holding company Aequus Group Holdings, Aequus Developments, which manages private rental properties, and Aequus Construction, which develops housing.



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