Building a stronger future

May 3, 2021

With more than 20 years’ experience of providing residential building and estate management, Kingston Property Services is firmly ensconced as a trusted and valued residential sector partner across the North East. But, as Steven Hugill finds out, plans are in place for the operator – which is part of Bernicia Group – to bolster its standing yet further.

If, as the proverb says, an Englishman’s home is his castle, then Kingston Property Services is ideally placed to ensure people lead safe and comfortable lives.

After all, its back story links to a real bastion of security in the region – Bamburgh Castle.

Back in the sixth century, the ruling Bernician elite – whose kingdom covered Northumberland, Durham and a pocket of South East Scotland – built the first incarnation of the famed coastal fortress.

Today, as a crucial component in Ashington- headquartered housing association Bernicia Group, Kingston Property Services, based on Newcastle’s Kingston Park, covers the entirety of the North East and beyond – just as its parent company’s namesake once did – providing trusted and valued management that guarantees residents are safe in their respective castles.

Block and estate management, communal landscaping services, building safety and service charge collections to name just a few services, as well as the sales and lettings operator Living Spaces – which is a trading division alongside Kingston Property Services under the Bernicia Commercial banner – mean its scale of delivery is vast.

“The majority of our work has, over the last 20 years, been block management,” says Colin Ord, director at Bernicia Commercial.

“Managing blocks of flats is our forte; it has been, and continues to be, the main bulk of our work.

“If there is an issue to be resolved, we work with residents to ensure it is put right quickly and efficiently.

“Furthermore, we are qualified members of the ARMA-Q regulatory body, which means we are recognised for delivering highly professional standards, as well as being very accountable and transparent.

“We are a big player in the field, especially in the North East.

“In addition, Living Spaces works as a traditional estate agency and provides property management services to private landlords on hundreds of properties, in the process providing us with an ever-increasing foothold in the sales and lettings market.”

But, reveals Colin, its breadth of service is set to expand further still, with plans in place to strengthen Kingston Property Services’ existing support for the maintenance of green spaces on new build housing developments.

As local authorities reduce the number of new sites they adopt for upkeep, Kingston Property Services’ market traction continues to increase, which Colin says will be bolstered by the creation of a new division to be known as Open Spaces.

Focused solely on estates’ landscaping, he says a number of jobs will be created, with specialists working on specific developments to ensure continuous and efficient service.

“We are seeing the estates management side of things really come up on the rails,” says Colin, who, prior to his role with Kingston Property Services, enjoyed a successful career in retail and business banking with Barclays.

“It is a very important provision, and we work with developers of all sizes; they like that we are a North East business and that we are very approachable, honest and have a proven and strong reputation.

“We have significant proposed business and are very much planning for future growth, which will be helped by Open Spaces.

“It will look after new build estate management, with Kingston Property Services continuing to assume responsibility for the areas it always has, such as block management.

“It is a long-term plan and we’re looking at taking on around 20 people at the moment, though the figure will be dictated to some extent by the number and timing of developments coming into management.”

Colin continues: “We will be employing people from the North East and they will be specialists, who will each focus on specific developments and have detailed knowledge of estates, which will help deliver efficient resolutions to any issues that may arise.

“They will also be geographically based, so will have the ability to pop out to sites easily if needed.”

Colin, whose career with Kingston Property Services began when he took on a leasehold management role with Cheviot Housing, the company that ultimately became his current employer after being absorbed into Bernicia Group, also says the move will include a significantly stronger digital platform.

He adds: “If, for example, people would like to receive annual charges by email, rather than post, and then go on the website to pay, we will be able to do that.”

While its provision is evolving to bolster services, one area that Colin says will remain steadfast is the organisation’s integrity and commitment to the communities it supports and the businesses that operate therein.

Highlighting Bernicia Group’s – and therefore Kingston Property Services’ – not-for-profit status, he says a key part of such continued focus will be the £1 million Bernicia Foundation.

Established in 2019 to help people access employment opportunities, support those with disabilities and tackle loneliness, it has already distributed hundreds of thousands of pounds to worthy causes.

It also recently funded the delivery of food parcels and craft activities to hundreds of North East families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colin says: “Our foundations are built on transparency, honesty and flexibility, and we are very committed to our status as a not-for-profit organisation.

“We take great pride in seeing any profits that we make invested into community projects across the region, such as new social housing, reading hubs or a community centre refurbishment programme, all funded through the Bernicia Foundation.

“We are very proud of what we do and proud of the region in which we work; our vans carry the slogan ‘putting pride in place’ to emphasise that.

“We always use local contractors as much as we can too, and this ensures we can monitor performance and change where necessary.

“Other companies provide their own in-house contractors, which does not offer the client any choice regarding performance and cost.

“For example, if we are working in Middlesbrough, we will look for a Teesside-based operator, and if we’re up in Berwick, we will work with a Northumberland company.

“Our ethos is to ensure that our Property Managers, where possible, are never more than an hour away from any site they manage.”

He adds: “Our staff are very committed, the Bernicia Group has a voluntary board, and all of the businesses in Bernicia Commercial correlate together to help us achieve great success.

“With the momentum we have, and the impending addition of Open Spaces, it all represents a big positive.

“It will make us that little bit more diverse and position us really well for the future.”

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