Home building well ahead of target’

MORE than a quarter of the 47,5005 new homes destined for the Cambridge region by 2016, which includes most of Huntingdonshire, have already been built. They are included in an extended target of 11,200 dwellings in Huntingdonshire, a district that is wel

MORE than a quarter of the 47,5005 new homes destined for the Cambridge region by 2016, which includes most of Huntingdonshire, have already been built.

They are included in an extended target of 11,200 dwellings in Huntingdonshire, a district that is well ahead of target in one of the fastest-growing areas of the country.

Sir David Trippier, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Horizons, a not-for-profit company established by the county's six principal councils to deliver the homes and £2.8 billion of new infrastructure - roads, schools, hospitals, leisure and community facilities, said nearly 13,000 homes had been delivered since 2001, more than 27 per cent of the total.

He said the power supplier Electricité de France had made a planning application to beef up supplies to feed new homes.

Sir David was speaking at Horizons' annual conference in Cambridge. He said: "We have a wonderful opportunity to create something very special within this area - sustainable communities where people want to live and work," he said.

"What we are trying to achieve is a better future for everyone with homes that people can afford, better jobs and educational opportunities, less congestion with more and better travel options, and a greener environment."

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Sir David, a former Tory housing Minister, said that, spending would include nearly £1.2billion on transport schemes, more than £500million on health and nearly £500million on affordable housing.

The balance was made up by money for education, utilities and community facilities.

The over-65s population was set to rise from less than 15 per cent in 2001 to nearly 18 per cent in 2016, with the overall population rising by more than one per cent a year and household sizes reducing.

Fewer than two per cent of annual property sales in South Cambridgeshire fetched prices below £80,000, and hardly a home in the district changed hands for a price a first-time buyer could afford.

Traffic in the county (outside Cambridge itself) had grown by 30 per cent over the past decade, compared with a national average of 19 per cent.

"Further improvements in public transport and investment in trunk roads are desperately needed," Sir David added. "I am acutely conscious of the fact that the Cambridge sub-region is both environmentally attractive and economically vibrant.

"Of course there are areas which are deprived and in need of regeneration and social stimulus, but broadly people do need to be reassured that the success of the area, which has made it unique in the United Kingdom, will not be harmed and that their quality of life will not be threatened by such an ambitious programme.

"It is unacceptable that your children and grandchildren face the depressing prospect that they cannot afford to live here," he told the conference, attended by the area's leading politicians and captains of industry.

"It is unacceptable that, in a leading knowledge-based economy, people will be reluctant to come into the area or will leave it because of an overstretched infrastructure and expensive housing. It is unacceptable to think that we do nothing and see what turns up.

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