New strategy outlines vision for the future of housing in Cambridge

News release from 9 March 2017, 9:28am

CAMBRIDGE City Council has set out its vision to guide the city’s approach to providing residents with the affordable, high quality housing they need in the coming years.

A need has been identified for 14,000 new homes in Cambridge by 2031, and a further 19,500 in South Cambridgeshire, to enable people to live settled lives here, and to enhance the local and national economy. Currently Cambridge is the third least affordable city in the UK for housing, according to a recent report by the Centre For Cities think tank.

The council’s Interim Housing Strategy Statement, which was presented to Housing Scrutiny Committee on 7 March, sets out a vision for Cambridge as a city where:

  • The housing market functions to provide homes which are as affordable as possible, meet residents’ needs and support the local economy;
  • There is a wide and varied choice of good quality, sustainable homes;
  • Homes are located in appealing environments, served by green space, effective transport links and other facilities;
  • Everyone has access to a suitable home where they can live healthily, safely and independently;
  • People live harmoniously in mixed and balanced communities which will meet the needs of residents into the future;
  • The council has strong relationships with residents, developers and partners to deliver housing and services.

The Statement sets out how the council is working with partners to achieve this vision through a series of strategic aims divided into three distinct areas:

  • Increasing housing supply and tackling affordability – This is being achieved through measures including working to accelerate the building of new homes as set out in the Greater Cambridge City Deal and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Deal; providing and promoting energy- and water-efficient homes; building homes in a variety of sizes, types and tenures; and making best use of council land to provide more council homes.
  • Existing homes and communities – Measures to enhance the city’s homes and communities include ensuring they are safe and health-enhancing; managing council homes in a cost-effective way; and promoting a well-regulated, fair private rental sector with more settled tenancies.
  • Homelessness, housing advice and rough sleeping – Reducing and preventing homelessness and rough sleeping in ways such as maximising access to longer term housing and helping people achieve sustained and settled lifestyles.

The Strategy Statement will be used as a framework to help everyone involved in housing in Cambridge and the surrounding area work together to provide the homes that are needed now and in the future, to support existing homes and communities, and to prevent and tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. It will remain in place until a proposed new housing strategy can be developed jointly with South Cambridgeshire District Council.

The interim strategy takes into account the results of consultation with the public in 2015 on a proposed new housing strategy. That was put on hold after a series of national housing policy changes, such as a 1% annual rent cut for social housing, a levy on sales of ‘higher value’ council homes, and the phasing out of lifetime tenancies were proposed by the government. 

Since then, further opportunities, such as plans to increase housebuilding following the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution deal, have emerged. The changing picture has meant it is important for the council to have a strategic framework to guide its plans for housing.

Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing, said: “Cambridge is a thriving city in many ways, but for the city’s success to continue we need to be able to give everyone who wants to live in this area – whether long-term residents or new arrivals – the good quality, affordable homes they need.

“We want Cambridge to be a city that provides a mix of housing, which meets the growing demand, and is affordable to as many people as possible. The £70m for council homes from the recent devolution deal will kick-start this process, but we need to continue to innovate in a number of different ways to tackle the shortage of affordable homes here.

“This interim strategy sets out some of the ways we can achieve that in the coming years, by working closely with our neighbouring councils, other organisations like the City Deal and the new Combined Authority, developers and other partners.”

Cllr Price approved the aspirational vision and strategic aims laid out in the draft Interim Housing Strategy Statement 2017 at Housing Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 7 March.