South Cambridgeshire facing housing 'crisis'

Builder working on partially constructed house roof.
-Credit: (Image: Rui Vieira/PA Wire)

Councillors have said South Cambridgeshire is facing a “crisis” housing position with many people not able to afford to live in the area. Some highlighted that many people could not afford to buy a home in the district, and that many young people faced “incredible costs” and struggled to find a place to live.

Trying to create new affordable homes for people to be able to live and work in the area is one of the priorities set out in the new Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy. The strategy is being created by Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council to set out the priorities for new and existing housing in the city and wider district for the next five years.

Overall objectives for “building the right homes in the right places that people need and can afford”, as well as building “high quality, low carbon, energy and water efficient homes” are due to cover both authorities, with specific aims set out for each council. In South Cambridgeshire councillors highlighted the problems being faced trying to provide homes people could afford in the area.

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At a meeting of the district council’s scrutiny and overview committee this week (June 6) Councillor Stephen Drew highlighted that the report showed that a high proportion of households in the district did not have a high enough net income to buy a home. He also highlighted that while the policy set out an aspiration to create more affordable housing, he pointed out that it also recognised this was “incredibly difficult to achieve” as it would make “some schemes unviable”.

Cllr Drew said the district council needed to make it clear for anyone looking at the housing strategy to “understand the crisis position the council is attempting to deal with”. Councillor Helene Leeming also picked up on the problems of the high cost of homes in the area.

She said: “I have just had a look on Rightmove now and in Cambourne at the moment to rent in a house share it is £750 a month, and to rent a two-bedroom house it is £1,375 a month. These costs are incredible for young people who either grow up in this area or choose to move here to start their careers and are really struggling if they do not qualify for social or affordable rented housing.”

The proposed housing strategy does set out aims to tackle this problem, with the district council setting out an objective to build at least 375 new council homes by 2028, and to try and bring forward affordable housing for local people through rural exception sites. The housing strategy also highlights the need for the councils to provide homes and stopping places for the Gypsy and Traveller community.

Councillor John Batchelor said he is expecting to see a report on the results of the Gypsy and Traveler needs assessment at a meeting in July. He said he suspected the report would highlight a need for temporary stopping places for people travelling to places such as the hospital. Cllr Batchelor said the district council was facing the difficult challenge of finding land available to be turned into a stopping place.