Plans for the Greater Cambridge City Deal partners to speed up the delivery of affordable homes by becoming a housing developer have been given the green light today (Thursday 18 June).
At a meeting of the Executive Board, City Deal bosses agreed the detailed business case that will see a joint council team charged with taking possible housing sites from theory to reality.
The shared council service will project manage all key housing development activities to get homes built more quickly, from finding, assessing and securing land to working with local communities, site design, gaining planning permission and handing over completed homes.
The team, which should be in place in April 2016, will bring together skills and housing knowledge from South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City council's housing teams and could see land owned by the County Council used for some development to deliver between 4,000 and 8,000 homes over the next 16 years.
South Cambridgeshire and Cambridge City councils already have ambitious council house building programmes with around 1,000 new homes expected to be completed over the next 30 years in South Cambridgeshire and at least 1,000 in Cambridge. As part of the Greater Cambridge City Deal all partners have committed to delivering an additional 1,000 affordable homes.
Leading councillors in both areas believe the number of affordable homes could be doubled if they are given more freedom from restrictive government rules on how the council's can invest their own housing funds.
Cambridge University has approved the principle of investing Â£30 million in affordable and key worker housing, which could be delivered more effectively using the proposed joint team.
The report agreed by the City Deal Board will now go forward to each council for final approval.
The City Deal aims to secure hundreds of millions of pounds of additional funding for investment in transport infrastructure to support high quality economic and housing growth over the coming decades. Â£100m of Government funding will be made available in the five years from April 2015. If certain conditions are met, a further Â£200m may be secured from April 2020 onwards and up to a final Â£200m from April 2025 onwards.
The Greater Cambridge City Deal Partnership includes Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council as well as the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and Cambridge University. The partners are working closely together to bring forward projects that improve the economic success of the area.
Cllr Lewis Herbert, Chair of the Greater Cambridge City Deal Executive Board and Leader of Cambridge City Council, said: "Housing, and particularly the need for more affordable housing for rent, are key priorities for us and the housing development agency is an incredibly exciting opportunity. Our focus will be on delivering high quality and affordable homes to meet the needs of local people. The plans bring together all the parts of the jigsaw; People, land and finance. In addition, having all three councils working in unison, will make far more of impact on the supply of housing than working separately. Other options would be to go out to the market to buy in services but this would cost more, take longer and would not give us the certainty doing it ourselves will do."
The report was presented to the Greater Cambridge City Deal Board on Thursday 18 June.