HE HAS made a big contribution in Basingstoke – but now Sentinel Housing Association chief Martin Nurse is preparing to finally close the door on his long career in the housing sector.

Martin, who has been chief executive of Sentinel Housing Association for 11 years, has seen a massive amount of change in the housing sector over more than three decades, but he will be retiring from Sentinel in the new year with a definite sense of achievement.

“We’ve certainly put Sentinel on the map as a housing organisation that wants to achieve things,” he said.

Among his highlights is the regeneration work he has undertaken not only in Basingstoke, but also in Hart and Rushmoor.

“I have really enjoyed my role,” said Martin, who will be 62 when he retires. “It’s because of the sort of work we do – providing homes, helping people and families, and people in different personal situations. And it’s been really good to have been part of an organisation that has helped so many people.”

The cuts in public sector funding have thrown up new challenges for Sentinel, which is headquartered in Houndmills, Basingstoke. “We’re currently having to find different ways of working because of the big cuts in Government funding,” explained Martin, who is ultimately in charge of a portfolio of 8,300 homes in north Hampshire.

“Whereas two years ago, we were getting £45million a year from Government, we are now getting about £5m over four years from 2011 to 2015 – that’s a big cut.

“And that’s why we have to find new ways of working, and so we want to use the financial capacity we have got to actually buy land.”

A case in point is the acquisition of the former Eli Lilly land and neighbouring Liverpool Victoria brownfield sites, in Kingsclere Road, where Sentinel plans to build a significant amount of affordable housing.

Despite all the challenges, Martin feels the not-for-profit organisation, which has a turnover of around £50million, has achieved a great deal and will continue to do so well into the future.

Martin said: “We are doing as much as we can to develop on brownfield sites.

“You really do have to think of the future and where the children and young people of today and older people are going to live. “I think too often in the housing debate we’re looking at what is there at present, rather than thinking what we need for the future generation.”

Martin paid tribute to all of the staff working for the association, and has wished his incoming replacement Mark Perry, who is currently group commercial director of Affinity Sutton, every success as he follows in his footsteps.