The City Council's Liberal Democrat opposition have proposed funding an initial report into redeveloping Cambridge's Queen Anne Terrace car park, aiming to provide affordable housing for key workers as part of the scheme.
The car park, located on Gonville Place, is one of the least used in the city but would be within walking or cycling distance of both the biomedical campus and the historic centre where many key workers are employed.
Housing spokesperson Cllr Anthony Martinelli commented "Redeveloping the Queen Anne Terrace car park strikes us as a fantastic opportunity to help address the city's housing crisis whilst reducing congestion and pollution in the city centre. In particular, we think now is the time to start building homes for those key workers who have made such huge contributions to our city during the pandemic.
"We believe it is important that the Council works to provide a diversity of housing options. We know that many key workers in both the public and private sector - including nurses, teachers and supermarket workers - currently struggle to afford to live in Cambridge, which is really damaging for the fabric of our society. At the moment, the Council offers little for these residents, who are often deemed to be a low priority on the Housing Needs Register.
"We are clear that these new homes would need to be built to the highest possible sustainability standards. Alongside reducing traffic into the city and encouraging use of public transport, our project would therefore aim to address the climate crisis and combat air pollution.
"There are many issues that would need to be analysed in great detail before breaking ground - not least the ongoing provision of the sports facilities at Kelsey Kerridge and the options for using parts of the redeveloped space for commercial activities. Our report would aim to investigate these thoroughly.
"We were disappointed when the Labour administration opted to convert the Park Street Car Park into a hotel and we would avoid repeating this mistake. We also hope that commissioning a report in advance would help avoid the multiple delays and complications that have beset that project - including most recently the threatened installation of a telephone mast on Jesus Green."