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Cambridge community may be moved from homes to develop flats

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Montreal Square Residents Association complaining about the proposed development of the square. Picture: Keith Heppell
Montreal Square Residents Association complaining about the proposed development of the square. Picture: Keith Heppell

There are fears a Cambridge community could be lost as residents protest about plans to redevelop an area that some have called home for decades.

Residents, councillors and protesters gathered on Saturday (May 12) to show the sense of community in Montreal Square, which they say will be destroyed if plans to redevelop the area goes ahead.

The Cambridge Housing Society (CHS) says it is “exploring the possibility” of increasing the number of affordable homes on Montreal Square from 18 to 32. The society plans to meet with residents this week to discuss the options on the table. Residents, however, fear their homes are in danger.

Marti King, 72, who has lived in Montreal Square for 40 years, said it would be impossible to replace the community that has grown up in the area if homes are knocked down.

She said: “It is one of the prettiest, greenest areas on this side of Cambridge, there is a lot of wildlife, and children play on the green in the middle.

“I am 72 and I have never had to do anything like this before. I have been here 40 years, and I have brought up two children in this house. This is my home, it is not just a house. Cambridge is a city I love and I have contributed towards the community here.

“It is a very well-rounded community. We look after each other in the way a community is meant to do. If anything goes wrong in the square, there is always somebody there who will help.

“It won’t be a community if they build flats. These houses have got another 100 years in them. You cannot replace a community.”

Resident Nicole Ebanks said the area was “lovely” to live in, but the lack of certainty about their futures was making it hard for residents.

“We can’t live like this,” she said.

Members of the Cambridge Housing Society board reportedly met with residents yesterday (Tuesday) to show them that board members were “personally aware” of the situation.

“We are in the process of consulting with residents,” the spokeswoman said. “We have not actually got any plans worked up because we want to come up with a plan that suits them.”

Nigel Howlett, CHS’s chief executive said: “As a charity, we have a duty to provide as much affordable housing in Cambridge as we can. Private rented property in Cambridge is unaffordable for people on low incomes – we want to build more affordable homes to help more people.

“It’s currently very difficult for CHS to find or build affordable housing in Cambridge, where need and lack of affordability is greatest. We recognise that moving customers out of their homes will be disruptive and we will do our best to offer them as much support as we can.”

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