Proposals to redevelop the site of a former garage block with around 40  new council homes, alongside improvements to a nearby housing estate, have been approved by Cambridge City Council.

The site, which is in a prominent city centre location on the corner of East Road and St Matthew’s Street in Petersfield ward, was previously occupied by ageing council-owned garages, which were demolished after sustaining storm damage last year.

Two options for the site have been approved, subject to planning applications, with varying proportions of affordable housing depending on further work to assess the viability of the two options, and how they would be funded.

Option A shows 40 affordable homes for council rent, with 16 (40 per cent) affordable homes to be let at social rents, and the further 24 (approx. 60 per cent) to be let at 80 per cent of market rent.

This option requires grant funding. Under this proposal all the homes will be owned and managed by Cambridge City Council and let on Cambridge City Council tenancies. The indicative mix of the proposed scheme will provide 40 council rented homes, with an overall net gain of 40 Council rented homes.

Option B is an alternative option which does not require grant funding. Option B would deliver 16 (40 per cent) affordable rented homes to be let at 60 per cent of market rent, and 24 homes for market sale. Having this option helps mitigate financial risk to the council and allows for the development to proceed should an application for grant funding prove unsuccessful.

The council is hoping to deliver a wholly affordable scheme as a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats built on the site in two separate blocks.

All the new homes built will be highly sustainable and low-energy, with features included to manage overheating and reduce water consumption, and for homes to be gas-free and contain triple-glazed windows and underfloor heating.

In addition, as part of the proposals, space will be available for commercial use, there will be planting and landscaping to encourage biodiversity and improvements will be made to the adjacent existing council-managed housing estate following further discussions with residents about what improvements they would prefer.

A public consultation event about the site was held site in November and local people provided useful feedback which has contributed to these initial proposals. Neighbouring residents will now also be invited to help the council develop ideas for the wider estate improvements.

Cllr Gerri Bird, executive councillor for housing, said: “Approval for these new homes to be built marks another milestone in our programme to build new council homes. Housing like this is much needed in Cambridge and pledging to build it in a sustainable way will help us meet our aim to be a net zero carbon council by 2030. The modern, energy-efficiency measures we will include in these homes will make them much more comfortable and affordable for tenants.

“This project will also give us an opportunity to make improvements to the nearby housing estates at the same time. We look forward to speaking again to residents nearby about ideas for improvements, and to sharing more details of the wider proposals very soon.”

The proposals for the site were approved at the council’s Housing Scrutiny Committee meeting on January 24. It is hoped that a planning application will be submitted later this spring and that further work will be carried out to develop the plans.

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