Ping! A message arrives. It’s not about a delivery or a scam but these photos from a friend. She’ snapped them while out walking. It’s the Ironworks site, part of the success story of Cambridge City Council’s house building partnership. There’s much to learn from it.
In 2017 the Labour-run council set out to provide 500 new Council homes in five years. In 2018 planning permission was given to turn the former Council depot in the heart of the city into modern, energy-efficient homes with half of them as Council houses.
Just two years later that concept became reality as the first Council houses were completed and handed to the City for local people. And building continues on site for more homes, a community centre, a park and support for green travel such as bike parking and a car club.
Think about the controversial Fulbourn Fields development with 110 houses planned to be built. The current planning application was allowed with only 30% ‘affordable’ housing (below the 40% required by Lib Dem-run South Cambs District Council).
If instead we had a 50% Council home share as in Cambridge, that would provide 55 Council homes on that development alone. This would mean rents would be pegged to local incomes to make them truly affordable. Tenancies would be more secure, so people could put down roots.
55 houses would make a huge difference to the waiting list here. There are 65 households waiting for council homes in Fulbourn alone. And well over 1000 in the South Cambs area. Many young families are struggling to pay huge rents on insecure tenancies in our area. People like the nurse I spoke to when phone canvassing who currently faces the choice between leaving our area and leaving her dream career. Is this the thanks she deserves after all she has done in the pandemic?
People ask me why I want to be a councillor. It’s being able to make this sort of difference to people’s lives. I am ready to put my heart and soul into wanting better for our communities.