A Welsh housing pioneer has been hailed as a “legend of the sector” after announcing that he is calling it a day.
Gwynne Jones, who has retired as the managing director of housing association Cartrefi Conwy, says he will have many fond memories of working with the innovative organisation.
Mr Jones joined Cartrefi Conwy after it was created by a majority vote by tenants in 2008 in favour of transferring the 3,800 properties from the ownership of Conwy County Borough Council.
Among his proudest achievements was masterminding a £30 million modernisation programme of the properties and bringing them all up to the required Welsh Quality Housing Standard.
Cartrefi Conwy was one of only a handful of social housing landlords to complete the mammoth task by the 2012 deadline set by the Welsh Government.
Then last year a flag raising ceremony marked a momentous double coup for Cartrefi Conwy when it was acclaimed for managing the first Welsh housing estates to be awarded with Green Flag status.
Six years ago the Peulwys estate in Llysfaen, above Old Colwyn, became the first to receive the internationally-recognised accolade after a massive £4 million environmental improvement programme.
The Tre Cwm estate in Llandudno followed suit after an “inspirational” £1.4 million transformation which reconnected youngsters there with the natural environment by creating communal areas which families can enjoy and where children can safely play
The estate has also benefited from redesigned roads, setting out car parking spaces, footpaths and changing concrete areas into green spaces – all brightened up by a major programme of planting trees, shrubs and flowers.
The work came on top of the £2.75 million spent by the housing association to improve the estate’s houses, flats and maisonettes which were built in the 1970s.
He is also proud that Cartrefi Conwy has set up an award-winning subsidiary, Creating Enterprise, which has set up an Employment Academy and is now building modular, carbon free homes and providing work and job opportunities.
Mr Jones has also played an important role in developing a £45 million strategy to build 428 homes over the next three years.
His track record of success was rewarded at the Welsh Housing Awards organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru (CIH) last December.
Mr Jones, who comes originally from Llanrwst and now lives in Ruthin, received the outstanding commitment award which was among an unprecedented haul of four honours won by the go-ahead housing association.
His career in social housing began when he started out out as a temporary rent collector for the old Arfon Borough Council in 1987, later working for the then Denbigh-based Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd, now part of Grŵp Cynefin, before joining the newly-formed Cartrefi Conwy as operations director in 2008.
He said: “The opportunity to work for Cartrefi Conwy was one I could not have refused really because it gave me the chance to make a significant difference to our communities.
“The mission to create communities to be proud of has been the driving force of the organisation from day one.
“Cartrefi Conwy has always been an innovative organisation, with new ideas coming through all the time and always raising the bar in terms of standards
“From the early days, we had a huge task in front of us to deliver the improvements that the tenants had voted for. We wanted to do that but also to try and create a legacy.
“When you look back at 2008 after the financial crash, Cartrefi Conwy was investing heavily in the local economy, creating jobs and providing work experience and training for our tenants.
“Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, said that if she could bottle what Cartrefi have done in Tre Cwm, Wales would be a better place and that made me feel very proud, so whatever else, I’ll always have that in my mind.”
Andrew Bowden, the chief executive of Cartrefi Conwy, said: “Gwynne has played a huge part in the success of Cartrefi Conwy and he will be greatly missed by all his colleagues.
“Over the years Gwynne has shown wonderful leadership and has embodied the core values of Cartrefi Conwy, with a ready smile and a steely determination to deliver on our promises to tenants in creating communities to be proud of. Quite simply, Gwynne is a legend of the social housing sector in Wales.”
“He can retire safe in the knowledge that he has laid firm foundations for an even more successful future for Cartrefi Conwy and his legacy will live on. We wish him all the very best for a happy and fulfilling retirement”