A NEW housing organisation, which operates 12,000 homes, has been formed following the merger of two housing companies.

Colne Housing and Greenfields Community Housing has joined forces to form Eastlight Community Homes.

The new housing provider has promised to invest £125 million in its existing homes as well as ploughing £1.75 million into local improvements which it says will be led by local people.

The business is expected to have a turnover of £68 million a year.

Eastlight says it will be able to build up to 3,800 homes in Essex and Suffolk.

The company say this is up to 1,300 homes more than Colne Housing or Greenfields Community Housing could have achieved separately.

It is also said Eastlight will become the largest community gateway association in the UK.

The name of the business was decided by resident shareholders during an online special general meeting in May.

More than 500 shareholders took part, with 405 voting in favour of the name change.

Neil Coughlan is an Eastlight resident and board member and was part of a group of residents making sure the merger benefited residents and communities.

He said: “To me, Eastlight signifies how we will be a beacon for our way of working, shining a light on how residents having real influence on services delivers the right results.

“I’m so pleased to see how many resident shareholders share my enthusiasm for what Eastlight Community Homes will become.”

Eastlight chief executive Emma Palmer added: “Merging our two housing associations will allow us to be stronger together and create a trailblazing, influential and innovative new housing association.

“I look forward to working alongside residents to develop the homes, services and communities they want and need.”

The merger was confirmed to residents in April and further information was sent to Colne and Greenfields residents last week.