A new vision for housing across Greater Cambridge, an area of national and international economic importance, aims to bring forward homes that are affordable to live in, close to jobs and energy efficient.
People are being asked to comment on Homes for our future: The Greater Cambridge housing strategy, a new draft document published jointly by Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils, that details how the two authorities will aim to meet housing challenges for the next five years. It is a collaborative document to reflect the linked economy and housing market across the areas.
The public consultation is being run until Friday 25 January 2019 to help residents have their say, giving them an opportunity to shape and influence the draft strategy before it is finalised next year.
Cambridge remains top of the UK league for economic growth prospects, while South Cambridgeshire’s villages are regularly named among the best places to live with the highest quality of life in the UK. However, both remain expensive places to buy or rent a home.
The proposed housing strategy for the two areas will, when finalised, help guide the future planning of new homes, as well as ensuring existing homes are fit for purpose. It focusses on three key themes:
- Building the right homes that people need and can afford to live in
- Enabling people to live settled lives
- Building strong partnerships
The strategy sets out a raft of ways for the two Councils to achieve their aims of bringing forward more homes that are affordable to live in between 2019 and 2023.
In South Cambridgeshire, this includes, for example, delivering at least 200 energy-efficient Council homes during the next five years, working with businesses to provide homes that are affordable and available to their workers, exploring the potential for a retirement village, providing self-build plots and working with communities to give them more influence over development.
In Cambridge City, the pledges include delivering at least 500 new energy-efficient Council homes, continuing to bring empty homes back into use, delivering affordable homes on Council-owned sites and working to reduce rough sleeping and homelessness.
Several pledges are made by both Councils, including to work with developers to speed-up the construction of homes, review outstanding planning permissions so housing schemes move forward as expected and ensure new homes are developed hand in hand with improvements to services and transport links.
The draft strategy was approved for consultation by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Cabinet on Wednesday 5 December, and by Cambridge City Council’s Executive on Wednesday 12 December.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Housing, Cllr Hazel Smith, said: “One of the highest priorities for our administration is to increase the number of homes that are affordable to live in. They need to be as close to jobs as possible, and we will be trying to find ways to ensure they’re as energy efficient as they can be.
“This strategy sets out how, working with Cambridge City Council, we hope to achieve these ambitions and build strong, healthy communities. We have no option but to be bold in our aims because we know how difficult it is for young people to get on the housing ladder here and how tough some employers find it attracting staff because they can’t afford to live in the area. It’s also hugely important that we plan for the aging population because right now it can be tricky to find the right type of home to live in when you are a pensioner.
“Having the right type of home, that leaves you with enough income to live life and have fun, is vital for the health and wellbeing of people at all stages of life so I would urge everyone to comment on our draft housing strategy, so we can hear first-hand if you think that we’re on the right track. We will listen, and your comments will influence how we meet South Cambridgeshire’s housing challenges.”
Cambridge City Council’s Executive Councillor for Housing, Cllr Richard Johnson, said: “Cambridge is a wonderful place to live, with a strong economy and a bright future – but for this success to continue we need to ensure that people have the good quality, affordable homes they need.
“This draft strategy sets out some of the ways we can ensure housing in the area meets growing demands, while being as affordable as possible to as many people as possible. The £70m for council homes from the devolution deal has started this process, and we are already on track to build 500 new council homes in the coming years. But we need to continue to innovate in a number of different ways to tackle the shortage of affordable homes here, bring back empty properties into use and tackle issues such as rough sleeping.
“I would encourage all residents and interested parties to take part in this consultation and help us forge a strategy that will give residents of the Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire areas the homes and communities they deserve, to lead happy and fulfilled lives here.”