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Michael Gove confirms 150,000 homes vision for Cambridge but admits ‘more is better’

A development corporation to deliver upwards of 150,000 homes around Cambridge over the next 20 years has been announced by Housing Secretary Michael Gove.

In a speech in central London on Tuesday, Mr Gove said the corporation would be armed with the “full range of powers necessary” to deliver the project.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove Picture: Lucy North/PA
Housing Secretary Michael Gove Picture: Lucy North/PA

Mr Gove also said the city is a “unique and special case” and its importance nationally means “a different approach is going to be required”.

“Nowhere is the future being shaped more decisively than in Cambridge.

“But until now, as I pointed out, its growth has been constrained,” he said.

In July, Mr Gove announced the government’s Cambridge 2040 plans for a ‘new urban quarter’ in the city.

He said today: “Delivering our vision means laying groundwork for the long term and that starts now. We will establish a new development corporation with a broadly based board to steer its efforts.

“This we will arm with the right leadership and the full range of powers necessary to marshal this huge project over the next two decades, regardless of the shifting sands at Westminster.

“We recognise the scale of development we’re talking about will require an upfront investment that is commensurate with our level of ambition across both the public and private sector. And we must also ensure we have an approach towards water that reflects the nature of Cambridge’s geography.

“That’s why we’re announcing today new steps to help manage demand for water in new developments and we will say more about new sources of water supply in the new year. Because our vision for Cambridge has been to exemplify what it means to fall back in love with the future.

“It’s going to set the standard for how we protect and preserve what makes a city special, and also how we design and equip it for the century.”

Taking questions from the audience, Mr Gove was asked to confirm the government’s ambition is for 150,000 homes around Cambridge, but said he did not want to “constrain the ambition of the development corporation”.

“For me, more is better,” he said.

MP Daniel Zeichner Picture: Keith Heppell
MP Daniel Zeichner Picture: Keith Heppell

Mr Gove was also asked about the government’s plans to tackle the issue of a lack of water in and around Cambridge.

He was asked whether the government would be stepping in to help progress Anglian Water’s plans for a new reservoir in the Cambridgeshire Fens near Chatteris, which will not be built until 2029 at the earliest.

“There is more we need to do in order to unlock necessary infrastructure and we absolutely must. Cambridge is already water stressed at the moment, it must grow and we must have the new water supply as well as the adjustments on demand that I mentioned,” he said.

Reacting to Mr Gove’s speech, Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner slammed the Tories for making plans without involving residents or their representatives.

He said: “Once again, Michael Gove and the Tories are arrogantly pronouncing plans for the future of Cambridge without involving local people or their representatives. What the Government needs to do is address the pressing water issues and unlock the funding for transport and housing projects that are ready to go and urgently needed - until then, this is just more hot air.”

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