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4 January 2016, 14:19
South Cambridgeshire Council says if there's to be any big changes in the Starter Homes initiative being announced today by the Prime Minister, any changes to the already agreed plans at Northstowe would have to be considered again by local councillors.
David Cameron's announcing more than 10,000 new homes will be built on public land through Government direct commissioning in a plan Mr Cameron's hailed as a "huge shift". Downing Street said the "radical" move will see homes being built at a faster rate with smaller building companies that cannot take on big projects able to begin construction on Government sites which already have planning permission.
The policy will be backed by an extra £1.2bn to prepare brownfield sites for the building of 30,000 starter homes - available to first time buyers under 40 for at least a 20% discount - over the next five years.
The construction of the first wave of up to 13,000 directly commissioned homes - 40% of which will be starter homes - will begin this year in Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, in Dover, Chichester, Gosport and at Old Oak Common in west London.
In addition to these, the extra £1.2bn will fast track the creation of at least 30,000 new starter homes and up to 30,000 market rate homes on 500 new brownfield sites by 2020.
The new projects form part of the Government's commitment to building 200,000 starter homes before the end of the Parliament.
Cllr Tim Wotherspoon, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning, said:
"This latest announcement clearly shows that Starter Homes are a Government priority and we have already started conversations with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) about this emerging national policy and how we can meet local housing needs at Northstowe.
Planning permission is currently in place for the first 1,500 home phase of the town which is being delivered by Gallagher. Councillors backed a planning application for the HCA’s 3,500 home second phase of the town in July last year which will be issued once the developer agreement has been finalised. If the Starter Homes initiative changes any of the agreed plans that part will be considered again by councillors.
It is important to remember that detailed planning permissions and an access road to the south of the site would both be needed before any homes could begin to be built on the second phase of the new town."
Labour City Chiefs in Cambridge have expressed fears over the announcement today that starter homes may replace social rented homes on large sites like Northstowe.
Executive Councillor for Housing, Kevin Price, said:
'Like South Cambridgeshire, our Local Plan and City Deal partners, we are committed to bringing forward high quality development sites and finding new sites for additional affordable housing.
Starter homes have a role to play but must not replace social rented housing. It's using taxpayer money as a direct subsidy and short term gain for a developer and some first buyers.
It is is not the answer for most lower income families in Greater Cambridge trying to get on the housing ladder and it is not the answer for the thousands on our waiting list for social rented homes and stuck in high priced private rented homes.
The reality is that it's already been over a year since the government said it would directly commission homes at Northstowe and so far there's nothing to show for it. They are also responsible for Defence Estates overcharging for the land which has so far been a millstone around the neck of schemes like Northstowe.'"
Councillor Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council added:
"What Cambridge and our partnership with South Cambridgeshire needs is for the Government to adopt a New Year's Resolution to end its systematic undermining of real affordable housing schemes for rent whether built by the city council, or at Northstowe by housing associations as partners with the national developers. Northstowe is now long overdue and will still be years to build out to completion.
Today's announcement adds nothing new to help people in housing need, and risks worsening the housing affordability crisis in Greater Cambridge."