Liberal Democrat councillors are set to find out if their campaign for local keyworker housing is successful when outline planning permission for the GB1 housing development in Queen Edith’s is considered by the planning committee on Wednesday 3rd February.
Queen Edith’s councillor Colin McGerty has been working with developers who in turn held discussions with the area’s largest employer Addenbrooke’s Hospital about how best to help with the affordable housing needs of those people forced to move away and commute to work by car due to the area’s astronomically high housing costs, adding to congestion and pollution.
Queen Edith’s has some of the highest house prices in Cambridge, where even a flat or maisonette can cost more than ten times the average income and, for many, even renting is unaffordable.
It was against this backdrop and the enormous gratitude to local keyworkers during the pandemic that Cllr McGerty engaged with developer CEG to recommend the locally linked housing scheme.
Under the scheme, 32 new homes would prioritise applications from people who have worked locally for over a year and 24 homes would prioritise people who have lived locally or have family nearby. Applicants also have to meet the usual qualifications for affordable housing.
Cllr McGerty told us “I am thrilled to see this local link for new affordable housing being proposed. It is imperative that we build homes that allow for a truly sustainable lifestyle. Where people can live within a short walk or cycle ride of their workplace and which will allow people brought up locally to remain living in the area if they choose to. Currently, people are simple priced out of helping to reverse climate change and biodiversity collapse. I hope this will serve as a model for other developments which seek to build modern, sustainable communities.”
But Cllr McGerty also had criticism for a similar development over the road. “The County Council owns the developer This Land who are building a further 230 houses on the other side of Wort’s Causeway, including around 90 affordable homes. This Land have not included locally linked housing in their development but I am hopeful they will now consider joining the scheme.”
Lib Dem Housing spokesperson Cllr Anthony Martinelli commented "We've campaigned for dedicated key worker housing in the city for years - so it's great to this scheme being put forward thanks to the hard work of the Queen Edith's Lib Dem councillors. I work at Addenbrooke's and on the biomedical campus and can think of many colleagues who would hugely benefit from new homes like this.
"We hope to use this success as a catalyst to encourage similar schemes, for example the GB2 development across the road, to follow suit. We also want to see the City Council itself build more key worker housing at strategic sites like the Queen Anne Terrace car park, which we are proposing be redeveloped as part of our Council budget amendment this year."