Saving 14 homes from demolition on Cambridge estate 'does not go far enough'

Save Ekin Road campaigners have called for Cambridge City Council to save 20 homes on the estate
-Credit: (Image: Save Ekin Road)

A Cambridge campaign group has said plans to save 14 homes on their estate from full redevelopment "do not go far enough". Cambridge City Council announced proposals to retain 14 homes on the Ekin Road estate while building 131 new homes on Tuesday, May 14.

A February report by real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) said full redevelopment of the estate was the 'preferable option', despite strong opposition from the Save Ekin Road campaign group. A Cambridge City Council spokesperson said the authority has "listened to feedback" and proposed an option which would retain 14 of the existing houses.

Maurice Chiodo, spokesperson for the Save Ekin Road group, said he felt numb when he learned that 14 houses could be saved. He said: "It didn't seem real because everything had pointed in a certain direction for years, so the expectation was that they were going to keep proceeding with the full demolition option."

A council spokesperson said: "Doing nothing at Ekin Road is not an option for the council because some of the council homes have significant maintenance and structural issues and are well below the current standards the council applies to new developments. The council has a duty of care to its tenants, either to invest in refurbishment works to improve these homes, or to invest in redevelopment to build new, high-quality homes for tenants, and, where feasible, increase the overall number or size of affordable homes to help meet local housing need."

He said the group welcomes the retention of the 14 homes on the southern edge of the estate but the proposals do not go far enough. The group has now requested that the council retain six more semi-detached houses on the estate, describing them as "well-loved family homes".

Maurice and Rachel Chiodo in the garden of their home in Ekin Road
Maurice and Rachel Chiodo in the garden of their home in Ekin Road -Credit:CambridgeshireLive/Cait Findlay

"That little corner is its own little sort of community cul-de-sac – the people who live in that corner are really, really close," Mr Chiodo said. "It's not a spanner in the works to keep those six houses."

The group has also requested that the council prioritise rehoming council tenants from homes set to be demolished in retained council-owned houses. A letter to the council said: "If these residents are to be forcibly moved from their longstanding homes, then the harm to them should be minimised by offering them a near-identical house on the same street, given that such housing is indeed available."

Mr Chiodo said Save Ekin Road will continue to campaign until their requests are met. He said: "The group is not disbanding because some people have saved their homes – we're not going to break up into pieces."

Councillor Gerri Bird
Councillor Gerri Bird -Credit:Warren Gunn

Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing and Homelessness, said: "Thank you to everyone who has been involved in feeding into our plans for Ekin Road. Officers have to consider so many factors in this process, and I'm delighted that we've been able to listen to people's feedback and refine our proposals accordingly, while still making progress to address the pressing need to provide higher quality homes for our tenants.

"Our council house building programme is transforming residents' lives by providing new homes that are of a far higher standard than many ageing council homes. They are more energy efficient meaning they're warmer and healthier, but also have lower energy bills."

She added: "For those Ekin Road tenants who welcome a chance to move into new council homes, that process should thankfully begin soon after Housing Scrutiny Committee in June. For residents who do not want to move, I really hope this update reassures you that we are listening.

"We understand that anyone facing redevelopment will have lots of questions, and we’ll continue to be available to discuss any concerns you have and to support you throughout the process."

The new proposal will be included as part of a report to be discussed at the council's Housing Scrutiny Committee on June 18. A council spokesperson said: "If the proposals are approved by councillors on 18 June, affected council tenants will be given priority status to bid for a new council tenancy from 19 June."