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Combined Authority launches bold, innovative and ambitious housing strategy

Combined Authority launches bold, innovative and ambitious housing strategy

The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority Board has today (September 26) agreed a bold, innovative and ambitious housing strategy to help tackle the region’s housing needs.

The housing strategy represents a new, ambitious and flexible approach to accelerating building rates and making homes more affordable in order to help tackle the severe shortage of housing of all types across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

The strategy recognises the need to move beyond conventional methods of housing delivery, which for many years have not delivered enough affordable and other types of housing. 

The housing strategy will enable the Combined Authority to meet its ambition to deliver 100,000 additional homes and 40,000 affordable homes by 2037 and help to address the affordability of housing, particularly for key workers, first time buyers and those in low and medium paid employment, who cannot easily access the home ownership market without family or other third-party support. 

Lack of housing, and high house prices and rents were identified as a serious threat to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s future prosperity in this month’s CPIER report.

The Combined Authority’s strategy aims to be more innovative in using a variety of development tools and options, in addition to traditional grants to deliver the additional homes. 

Schemes such as Community Land Trusts (CLTs), discounted market homes priced at £100,000 at first sale and mechanisms such as Land Value Capture (LVC), are all designed to bring new direction and innovation into tackling the area’s housing problems.

By using a range of financial delivery mechanisms that have not traditionally been a method through which public sector organisations have supported and delivered housing, the Combined Authority aims to create a revolving fund that will outlast the £170m programme and will help to meet the longer-term target of an additional 100,000 homes by 2037.   

Mayor James Palmer said: “The Combined Authority has an aspiration to deliver an additional 100,000 homes and 40,000 affordable homes over the next 20 years. That simply won’t be possible without a fresh approach and a strategy that goes beyond simply handing out taxpayers’ money in grants for a finite amount of homes. We have to face facts that we might not be able to go back to the Government, cap-in-hand, when the money runs out. We have to think differently.

“That’s why we need to make strategic investments in certain schemes that include an element of being able to clawback that investment to reinvest in further schemes, creating a revolving fund. An entrepreneurial approach is not about making a profit, it is about the ability to recapture any investment of taxpayers’ money to then plough back into delivering even more housing. Community land trusts, discounted market sale homes with prices capped at £100,000 and land value capture are all exciting ways through which we can achieve this.

“I’m a passionate advocate for home ownership, and it is simply not fair that so many hardworking people are locked out of owning their own property. There are huge swathes of working people earning too much to qualify for social housing, yet cannot hope to put a deposit down on a house and so are forced into astronomically expensive private rented homes. 

“This strategy puts real focus on making home ownership more achievable.”

Councillor Charles Roberts, Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Combined Authority Housing Committee, said: “We are facing a situation in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough where many people are being forced into living further and further away from the places they work and grew up because they cannot hope to afford house prices and private rents in overheated areas.  

“This ‘displacement cycle’ forces people to endure long commutes, causes pressure on our transport network and harms health and wellbeing generally.

“I endorse this housing strategy because it brings forward the innovative solutions we need to break that cycle. 

“Schemes like community land trusts (CLTs) allow people to stay in the communities they are connected to by offering rental homes that are truly affordable. The creation of a revolving housing fund means we can go forward and unlock CLTs and other bold housing schemes at pace, delivering homes in vastly greater numbers than our targets set down in devolution.” 

The strategy will also see the Combined Authority launching a development company, which will be solely focused on the delivery of additional housing stock, in-line with the overall strategic housing goals, and in ways which minimise risk.

Roger Thompson, Director of Housing and Development, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, said: “Our housing strategy will allow the Combined Authority to accelerate housing delivery in order to support economic growth, expand housing choices and increase ownership opportunities – creating prosperous places where people want to live.

“By setting up a development company, whose sole focus is accelerating the delivery of home building schemes strategically and innovatively, we will be able to play the active role needed to address our housing challenges.

“With an entrepreneurial spirit, along with well managed and selected housing development opportunities, there is the potential over time for returns and profits to be reinvested into creating a larger and growing revolving fund, with the capacity to magnify its impact on delivering more affordable housing units.” 

The Combined Authority’s housing strategy can be viewed here.