About us

Innovation Chain North (ICN) is a framework for construction and associated professional services procured under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and is OJEU compliant. It has been designed to support the delivery of new homes and associated social infrastructure across the North of England. The framework includes lots for contractors, associated professional services as well as a Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) for the supply of Modular Homes.

Great Places Housing Group (GPHG) set up and manage the ICN framework to service our requirements and those of other clients. As a framework, we enable a compliant procurement route to the delivery of high quality, sustainable homes that meet the current and future needs of our residents. We encourage innovation, benefit from collaborative working, achieve efficiencies and aim to deliver consistent and sustainable job creation and training in the communities that we work for the benefit our residents.

Benefits of ICN

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Benchmarked Value

Achievement of value for money outcomes which are benchmarked across the framework

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Best Practice

Access to an efficient way to achieve best practice procurement and funding compliance

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Social Value

Clearly defined social value pledges and provision of management tools to maximise the opportunities we have to add social value to all of our work

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Centralised Management

Centralised performance management of suppliers through the use of KPIs

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Detailed Reports

Monitoring and collation of supplier due diligence documentation

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Continuous Improvement

A culture of innovation and continuous improvement

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Shared Learning

Collaboration with sector peers to share learning and experiences

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Standardised Information

Access to up to date standardised information, which includes service briefs for professional services; appointment letters; suite of JCT and direct works order contracts; standard house types including non NDSS and NDSS designs; a design guide; employers requirements; social value management tool and KPI templates.


Joanne Whitehead

Joanne Whitehead (Development Performance Manager) – responsible for managing the framework.

Joanne has worked in affordable housing for most of her career. Using the experience, knowledge and learning gained from her involvement on the ICNW framework, Joanne was very much involved in designing the new ICN framework. Joanne is responsible for the day to day management of the framework along with performance management within the Development Team.

Rick Clark

Rick Clark (Head of Procurement) – responsible for procurement compliance.

Rick has over 10 years experience of procurement in the social housing sector, and leads Great Places’ Procurement Team. Rick is responsible for ensuring that Great Places’ procurement is compliant with UK Legislation and delivers value for money, along with leading on Social Value generation though Great Places’ supply chain. Rick and his team helped develop and realise the latest ICN framework, ensuring that compliance and Social Value are at the heart of the new framework offer.

Helen Spencer

Helen Spencer (Executive Director of Growth) – responsible director.

Helen has worked in housing for 19 years, delivering a wide range of regeneration, development, and housing programmes and projects. Helen’s role at Great Places is to lead and shape the ICN framework alongside leading the Development and Sales Teams.

Nick Gornall

Nick Gornall (Director of Development) – responsible for senior leadership support.

Nick has over 9 years experience working in affordable housing development. Nick’s role at Great Places is to support the leadership and operation of the ICN framework alongside overseeing the identification and delivery of Great Places affordable housing development.


  • 2012

    Innovation Chain framework principle founded by Great Places.

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  • 2012 - 2016

    Innovation Chain North West (ICNW) framework jointly procured by four like minded registered providers. Great Places, Adactus (now Jigsaw Homes Group), Plus Dane and Harvest (now Your Housing Group).

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  • 2016 - 2020

    Innovation Chain North West (ICNW) framework solely procured by Great Places. 17 clients joined the framework which supported the delivery of more than 4,000 new homes with expenditure in excess of £400m.

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  • 2020 - 2024

    Innovation Chain North (ICN) framework launches with a new geographical reach expanding into the East of England. The framework renewal process saw a 56% increase in bidders seeking to deliver works and services. Following a robust evaluation process we awarded a place on the framework to 113 successful suppliers.

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