Funding for Fanshawe Road redevelopment approved
Nearly £28 million of funding has been approved to bring forward the redevelopment of council housing in Fanshawe Road in Cambridge.
Cambridge City Council plans to demolish the existing buildings in order to increase the number of council homes on the site.
The initial budget of £27.9 million was approved at a housing scrutiny committee meeting yesterday (Tuesday, June 21).
Built in the 1950s, the current site is made up of 33 homes across three blocks of flats and two houses.
A report presented to the committee explained that 10 of these homes are leasehold and 22 are council tenants.
The report said the site had been identified for redevelopment due to “future maintenance costs, its poor environmental performance, and the site’s potential to support the council’s housing programme”.
The redevelopment plans could see these buildings demolished and 93 new homes built on the land.
The preferred option set out by the city council is for these to all be made affordable housing, however, council officers said this option relies on additional grant funding from Homes England, which they said has not yet been confirmed.
A second option has been put forward for the site if the city council is unable to get the grant funding.
In this option a minimum of 44 homes will be council rent, and the rest made available for market sale. The report said this would still be an increase in the number of council homes on the site.
The officers explained that people currently living in Fanshawe Road have been offered alternative homes in Cromwell Road.
Officers said they recognised that this will not suit everyone and that they have other properties and will be speaking with people to make arrangements.
They said people would be offered one of the new homes once built, but said they will need to move in the meantime.
Cllr Lewis Herbert said there is a “real need” to increase the amount of council housing in the city.
He also said that as ward councillor for the area, if people living there raise any issues he would be happy to investigate these adding that “inevitably not everybody likes change”.
Some councillors did question why a commitment was not being made to build the new site to the Passivhaus standard – a certification of energy efficient construction where the building ultimately needs very little energy to run.
Officers explained that the current proposed layout of the site made this harder to achieve, but said the ambition is to deliver the scheme at the Passivhaus or equivalent level of sustainability.
Cllr Daniel Lee said it was “disappointing” that if the city council is not able to get funding from Homes England that only 47 percent will be council housing and the rest put up for private sale.
He highlighted the value of the land due to its location near the station and asked that city council put in place “proper transparent screening” of those looking to buy the homes, to make sure they are people looking to ‘make a life in Cambridge’ and are not “domestic or foreign investors”.
The city council has previously been accused of marketing some of its properties to investors in Hong Kong, however, the administration has said the homes were only sold to people looking to live in the city.
Fiona Bryant, director of enterprise and sustainable development, said the city council wants to build communities and does have measures in place, including a limit of one home per person, which she said did not suit investors who prefer to ‘buy in bulk’.
However, she said the council had to be careful not to be “inadvertently discriminatory”.
She said: “We have to be a little bit careful. We have already got a particular issue where there was a foreign national who was looking to purchase and effectively our answer was no after initial screening.
“They put in concern that they were being discriminated against, and in fact they have lived in Cambridge 17 years and they were buying for their son who is simply moving from home.
“We have had a couple of other cases where we have been very careful but despite that we are being considered as discriminating against people who genuinely want to buy if we are placing criteria that would restrict them from doing so.”
The exact design of the proposed new development has not yet been set out and the city council will need to submit a planning application for approval before the work can go ahead.