House market slowdown 'no threat to Hunts'

THE growth agenda for Huntingdonshire will not be knocked off course by the temporary setback in the housing market. This is because the extra 50,000 homes to be built in the Cambridge sub-region are a long-term project, a former Housing Minister said. Si

THE growth agenda for Huntingdonshire will not be knocked off course by the temporary setback in the housing market.

This is because the extra 50,000 homes to be built in the Cambridge sub-region are a long-term project, a former Housing Minister said.

Sir David Trippier, chairman of Cambridgeshire Horizons - the not-for-profit company set up to deliver the associated infrastructure - said there would be some short-term difficulties, however.

"There will be an adverse effect, but it won't be as great here as in other parts of the country because the market in Cambridgeshire is more resilient," he told The Hunts Post. "Fortunately, the prospects for growth, including St Neots and Northstowe are longer-term projects in the cycle."


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Sir Bob Kerslake, chief executive designate of the new Homes and Communities Agency, said: "There's an issue of liquidity in the market but it doesn't change the core argument. First, the impact of the credit crunch is less here than in other places, and secondly, we have quite an influence on the market system."

The two knights spoke during a break at Horizons' annual conference at Hinxton Hall - close to the site of the proposed Hanley Grange new eco-town, which is roundly condemned by everyone except Tesco, which owns the land.

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Earlier, Sir David had told the conference that nearly 30 per cent of the new homes scheduled to be built by 2021 were already complete, adding 16,613 to the housing stock.

To kick-start infrastructure investment ahead of developers' Section 106 contributions, the Government had given Horizons an £8million rolling fund that would be topped up each time the anticipated contributions were received. The first project was the Addenbrooke's access road.

He excoriated the Government's decision to include Hanley Grange on the long list of proposed eco-towns, which had been an unwelcome distraction from Horizons existing programme.

"Government included Hanley Grange in their long list despite our efforts to head this off. We put forward clear arguments to them as to why this would be undesirable on its own merits and explaining the damage it could do to delivery of the existing planned sites, in particular to Northstowe," he said.

"Notwithstanding the disappointment of this, we are now working hard to co-ordinate a combined response which we hope will see Hanley Grange removed from the shortlist of eco-towns going forward."

Sir David said Horizons was working closely with Renewables East on a possible site-wide renewable energy solution for the 9,500-homes new town of Northstowe, on the site of Oakington airfield, to provide the town centre and employment sites with heat and cooling, as well as power for the homes. The European Regional Development Fund had agreed in principle to provide money for the work, he added.

With local authorities in the sub-region, Horizons has submitted bids to the Community Infrastructure Fund to support transport projects costing £200million.

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