Mayor James Palmer calls on government to tackle ‘immoral’ housing crisis

The combined authority board have approved a new housing strategy to build more homes in Cambridgesh

The combined authority board have approved a new housing strategy to build more homes in Cambridgeshire. PHOTO: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

Local and national government have been called on to put aside their differences to tackle the “immoral” housing crisis in Cambridgeshire.

Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, James Palmer, implored the authority’s board members to “put aside their antagonism” and approve a new housing strategy which aims to make more homes available for people who cannot afford to live in expensive areas in Cambridgeshire. Mayor Palmer said it was possible to build and sell homes for £100,000 which would allow young people and people on lower incomes to afford to buy a home. But there was concern that the plans - which were approved by the board - were being rushed through without proper thought for how best to address the need in the county. Bridget Smith, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said there was too much focus on simply delivering houses quickly rather than delivering them in areas they were really needed. “What you are approving is a first-come first-serve approach that doesn’t look at need,” she said. “In places like South Cambridgeshire the situation is more complicated. “This is about hitting a target as quickly as possible without looking at where houses will benefit those who are really struggling.” She also slammed the “poorly written” report which, she said, was too vague and didn’t give enough detail. Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, also voiced his concerns with the strategy. He said housing associations had lost faith in the combined authority, and said they needed to be a part of tackling the housing crisis in the county. Mayor Palmer agreed that housing associations were “part of the plan” but said the combined authority needed to be “more original” in its approach. He said it was “dishonest” to say houses could not be built more quickly. “This is a challenge to national government,” said Mayor Palmer. “They have got to, whatever party they’re in, pull their heads out of the sand on the Brexit deal and look at this situation. If we do not, we will be having these conversations in 15 or 20 years’ time.

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