Pat Ritchie, North East director for Homes and Communities Agency, will lead the organisation with a formal announcement expected shortly

The former strategy boss of the North East’s regional development agency is to be named chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency, according to sources close to the situation.

The appointment will see Pat Ritchie move from her current post as North East director for the HCA to lead the organisation following the announcement of the departure of Sir Bob Kerslake last month. A formal announcement is to be made either this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Before joining the HCA Ritchie was assistant chief executive (strategy) for ONE North East, the regional development body now axed by the coalition government.

The appointment is likely to be seen as a surprise in some circles, with Ritchie not widely known outside of her native North East. The front runners for the job had been thought to be the HCA’s director of strategy Trevor Beattie, and its director of investment Richard Hill.

A North East source said Ritchie was “a very good appointment. She is thoughtful, clever, a good leader and has credibility with staff.” T

he appointment may be read in some areas as a signal that the HCA will focus on regeneration rather than social housing funding in future.

Current chief executive Bob Kerslake is to start his new job as permanent secretary at the communites department at the beginning of November.

The HCA only advertised for his replacement internally, and the appointment is thought likely to be just for a year in length, at least initially, while the agency is re-structured.

The HCA declined to comment on the story.