When Saxon Weald transferred from the local authority, it inherited 175 land titles. However, while Saxon Weald had a grounds maintenance liability for each title, it did not have a full understanding of what the liability was. Justin Chamberlin, GIS manager, Saxon Weald Homes, said, “We didn’t know how much ground we were responsible for, what it was and where it was. We discovered that we were routinely cutting grass that didn’t belong to us, while missing out grass that did.”
Saxon Weald replaced its existing legacy geographic information system with ESRI’s ArcMap Server product and GIS for Housing, ESRI’s product specifically designed for housing associations.
Having digitised all of its paper-based plans, Saxon Weald is now using the ESRI system across all parts of its organisation, such as land management, boundaries, properties, new developments, liabilities, disabled access, instances of asbestos and anti-social behaviour, via a dedicated GIS server which gives all staff access via the Saxon Weald intranet. As well as property and land assets, social and demographic information is now also recorded and analysed using GIS.
Saxon Weald estimated that it has made ‘cashable savings’ of at least £124,000 per year. This comprises £60,000 from more accurate grounds maintenance contracts, £40,000 from better maintenance of trees on Saxon Weald’s land, and £24,000 due to the reduction in time spent preparing separate rent and services invoices for its tenants.
When Saxon Weald proposes new housing schemes, it can import the architects’ CAD drawings into ArcGIS, lay them onto the site, carry out spatial adjustments and map out internal floor layouts and communal corridors. Chamberlin said, “We can now produce accurate Lease Plans that are recognised by the Land Registry without reference to external agencies, saving considerable time and money.
“In addition to the quantifiable, cashable benefits, there are also strategic benefits that are just as valuable. ArcGIS gives people information about our land holdings at their fingertips. This is a real advantage, because it gives everyone an immediate understanding of where we are located and improves awareness of what our corporate liabilities are.”
Saxon Weald has recently started to use ArcGIS to highlight properties where there are high levels of rent arrears. Chamberlin explained, “We can analyse where arrears occur and who is dealing with them to see what approaches work and develop new collection strategies.”