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‘Failing’ blocks of flats in Cambridge to be demolished and redeveloped

Two “failing” blocks of flats in Cambridge will be demolished and redeveloped by the city council.

Hanover Court and Princess Court, off Hills Road, date from the 1960s and have structural deficiencies, poor energy efficiency and living spaces that are smaller than modern standards.

Hanover Court flats in Cambridge. Picture: Richard Marsham
Hanover Court flats in Cambridge. Picture: Richard Marsham

A report to the council’s housing scrutiny committee last week said different options had been looked at, including taking no action, completing essential repairs and retrofitting the buildings, as well as redeveloping the blocks in full.

An officer said “doing nothing” was “never really a serious option” and the recommendation was to demolish the block and build 138 homes with high sustainability standards

It has not been confirmed how many would be council homes, but the target would be to replace the existing 82 flats if feasible. The possibility of providing 40 per cent affordable housing – 55 flats – will also be assessed.

The report said: “The challenge for the council is to address the problems of two failing blocks of flats.

“A priority for the council is to consider the best interests of residents and to ensure that the council can provide high quality, safe accommodation.

“Providing sustainable housing that responds to the climate change emergency is a high priority.

“The analysis indicates that providing additional housing is only possible on a limited basis due to planning constraints and that financial constraints will limit the delivery of affordable housing unless other sources of funding are identified.”

Cllr Katie Porrer (Lib Dem, Market) asked for any charge to the number of council homes to be brought back before councillors.

The authority has been offering council tenants in the flats other properties to move into and is buying back leases from leaseholders in the buildings.

One tenant representative on the committee, Diana Minns, who used to live in the buildings, said officers had “gone well beyond their brief” to help people move.

She said: “As an ex-tenant, I would obviously love to see the maximum number of council properties that we can squeeze out of that site.

“I also want to raise the point, when you live in a place - and I lived there for almost 23 years - you put up with things and make compromises.

“When I had taken everything out and looked at the flat in the new place, I realised how many compromises we made living there.

“I look forward to seeing as many properties as we can on the site.”

In 2021, the gas supply to Hanover Court and Princess Court, along with the Kingsway flats, was capped off after routine works revealed an explosion could cause major damage to the structure of the buildings.

The authority provided residents with temporary electric cooking and heating equipment where needed and replaced gas cookers with new electric cookers at no cost to residents.

A planning application will need to be submitted and approved before any redevelopment work can take place.

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