THE head of Bradford’s biggest social housing provider is to retire after a glittering career of 17 years.

Geraldine Howley, Incommunities Group Chief Executive, has announced she plans to step down from her role at the end of 2020.

The community stalwart was appointed as CEO right when the control of "council housing" switched from the local authority to Incommunities in 2003.

Her time at the helm has been filled with achievements and highlights, including being awarded an OBE for her services to housing, young people and the local community.

She visited Buckingham Palace in December 2017 to pick-up the special award, just a year after she had been made an honorary doctorate by the University of Bradford for her outstanding contribution to housing across the district.

Mrs Howley said: “Incommunities is in great shape which means the time is right to move on to the next stage in my career.

"I’ve loved my time at Incommunities and delivering our vision of improving people's lives has always been my mission as CEO."

The GEM (Graduate Employment Mentoring) Programme is something Mrs Howley always placed much focus on.

It is is a 12-month learning scheme which is run by Incommunities' Centre for Partnership.

The programme includes paid traineeships with a range of housing associations and councils in England and Scotland.

Since 2009, it has trained more than 150 graduate and more than 70 per cent of those completing the qualification are currently working within the housing sector.

Mrs Howley is Chair of both the Centre for Partnership and the GEM Programme, as well as a number of other influential boards.

This includes the Chartered Institute of Housing Governing Board and the UK Housing Partnership Board, while she is also a CBI Regional Council member.

Incommunities Chair, Jan Ormondroyd, praised Geraldine’s leadership.

She said: “During seventeen years as CEO, 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.

"We are a growing organisation and we will now begin the search for a successor who will continue our transformation and deliver our vision for Incommunities to 2040.”

Mrs Howley has overseen a number of changes and advancements in her time as CEO.

This includes significant developments in Bolton Woods and the "flagship" Chain Street scheme - the first family-sized home in Bradford since the 1960s.

She led the rebranding of Bradford Community Housing Trust to Incommunities Group in 2008, has overseen the delivery of multi-million pound improvements to local homes, and led the review of the company's office accommodation around the district in 2013, which saw the acquisition of its headquarters at The Quays, in Shipley.

Mrs Howley has always been a stickler for charity efforts too.

She completed the Great North Swim in the Lake District multiple times and supported numerous foodbank events.

Mrs Howley said: “Incommunities has so many talented and great people working for it 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.”

Her retirement brings to a close more than fourty years of working in housing.

But, she will continue to bring her leadership experience to key roles as Chair of CIH Governing Board, the GEM Programme and The Big Conversation.

The recruitment process for a new Group Chief Executive at Incommunities will start over the coming weeks.