Colleagues pay tribute to Alan Brown

The housing sector in Scotland has been saddened to learn of the death of Alan Brown.

Alan was raised in Edinburgh and proved to be an early promoter of the housing association movement in Scotland. After joining the Housing Corporation from the British Linen Bank, Alan rose to the position of regional director. He was an early promoter of RSLs in Edinburgh and the East of Scotland and many familiar and successful organisations were established and nurtured during his early career. At a time when 60% of all funding was allocated to Glasgow, he effectively and efficiently distributed the remainder throughout his ‘patch’.

Joining Gorgie Dalry Housing Association as its director in 1989, Alan expanded the geographic reach of that organisation (his edict on a one hour travelling time, challenging speed limits for his staff), as well as broadening its tenure range and new build potential. Renamed as Canmore Housing Association in 1991, Alan’s vision resulted in the establishment of Scotland’s first mid-market rent housing development in 1993, the establishment of a market rent subsidiary, Malcolm Homes and the development of Scotland’s first car-free housing development, Slateford Green.

Graeme Russell, former director of tenancy services at Gorgie Dalry and Canmore HAs, said: “It was an experience working for Alan. He was always challenging but conducted himself with integrity and professionalism. Alan was ahead of his time, developing initiatives which paved the way for others and which we now take for granted. He continued to fight for resources to improve housing in his native Edinburgh and the east of Scotland and would rail against the inequity of HAG allocation between Glasgow and the remainder of the country. Scottish housing owes him a debt of gratitude.”

Craig Sanderson, former CEO of the Link Group, remembers him fondly: “As a young housing officer in the mid-‘70s, I loved reading correspondence between Alan and Bob Soper, then secretary of Link. Both had such a vibrant command of language – and didn’t shrink from using it on each other when not seeing eye-to-eye.

“But if it hadn’t been for passionate agitators like them then the fantastic housing association movement we now have throughout Scotland would never have come about. I was privileged to collaborate with Alan throughout his time at Canmore HA, including establishing the innovative management company Kintry in Craigmillar with Edinvar and Castle Rock housing associations.”

Alan retired from his director’s role in 2005, but remained involved in the housing association movement, serving diligently as a board member of Viewpoint Housing Association and Malcolm Homes. He and his wife Mary spent his remaining years travelling and enjoying the company of friends and family. Friends and former colleagues were able to say their farewells and participate remotely in his funeral service held on Tuesday 17th November. Alan is survived by his wife Mary and children Euan and Rachel.