A PARTNERSHIP between Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT) and Helena Partnerships has moved a step closer.

Both group boards agreed to move to advanced partnership discussions after the potential for a merger between the two was first revealed last November.

GGHT and St Helens based Helena gave the go ahead to extend talks after evaluating a business case that the two believe set out clear benefits for customers, employees and the region as a whole.

It comes after Warrington Borough Council agreed to lend £90 million to Helena as part of a scheme to build 1,400 homes across the region.

During the summer the financial, legal and governance arrangements of both GGHT and Helena will be scrutinised and a period of consultation with key stakeholders including the local authorities and tenants will take place.

Once the process is complete it will go back to each group’s board in September for further assessment.

If the partnership goes ahead, the new group would own 22,000 homes, employ around 1,000 people and have a joint turnover of £100 million making it one of the largest housing groups in the north west and a key north west regeneration partner.