GERALDINE Howley – who has been at the helm of Keighley social housing group Incommunities for 17 years – is retiring.

The group chief executive has announced she plans to stand down at the end of this year.

Mrs Howley took over the top job at the time of the stock transfer from Bradford Council – and has since overseen a series of business transformations.

In 2008 she led the rebranding of Bradford Community Housing Trust to Incommunities, in conjunction with a major governance review and implementation of a new structure which marked the beginning of the organisation’s modernisation.

The ‘Decent Homes Standard’ was achieved in 2010, since when Mrs Howley has overseen multi-million pound improvements to housing stock.

She has also spearheaded the growth of Incommunities beyond the Bradford district through mergers, stock acquisitions and new developments. Latterly, she has led the group’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mrs Howley said it was “the right time” to step down.

“Incommunities is in great shape which means the time is right to move on to the next stage in my career,” she added.

“I’ve loved my time at Incommunities and delivering our vision of improving people’s lives has always been my mission as chief executive.

“Incommunities has so many talented and great people who are committed to our social purpose and we now also have the financial infrastructure to support our long-term growth. It’s a fabulous organisation and now is the right time for a new leader to take Incommunities on the next stages in its journey.”

Mrs Howley, who has worked in the housing sector for over 40 years, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bradford in 2016. And a year later she received an OBE for her services to housing, young people and the local community.

Tribute is paid by the group’s chairman, Jan Ormondroyd.

She said: “Geraldine has successfully led the changes which have ensured Incommunities thrives in a challenging environment.

“We are a forward looking organisation and she leaves us with a strong platform to achieve our future ambitions.”

The recruitment process for a new group chief executive will start in the coming weeks.