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Cambridge City Council

Council listens to feedback on Ekin Road redevelopment and recommends keeping 14 houses

14 May 2024

Cambridge City Council has listened to feedback from residents and independent expert advice including from consultants JLL about the emerging designs to redevelop the 122-home Ekin Road housing estate, and is now proposing to retain 14 of the existing houses alongside building 131 new mixed-tenure homes.

Councillors have thanked the local community for the feedback provided through formal and informal engagement up to this point, and have committed to continuing to communicate regularly and provide ongoing support to any residents likely to be affected by redevelopment.

Redevelopment of Ekin Road is part of the council’s wider programme of work across Cambridge to improve accommodation standards for people living in existing council homes; to build additional council homes to meet local need; and to address wider housing supply issues, including much-needed larger family homes.

Doing nothing at Ekin Road is not an option for the council because some of the council homes have significant maintenance and structural issues and are well below the current standards the council applies to new developments. The council has a duty of care to its tenants, either to invest in refurbishment works to improve these homes, or to invest in redevelopment to build new, high-quality homes for tenants, and, where feasible, increase the overall number or size of affordable homes to help meet local housing need. 

Throughout the process the council has been working with planners and independent advisors JLL to refine the proposals, taking into account planning policy – such as reprovision of open spaces in new developments – financial viability for the council, feedback from the community as part of ongoing engagement activity since 2021, and feedback during the most recent consultation which ended on 3 May 2024.

At the start of this process 98 of the 122 existing homes were council homes. While fewer council homes will be built under the new proposals (64 new council homes will be built, with seven more now likely to be retained and retrofitted), the outcome will be more large three- or four-bed family council homes, increasing from 22 to 37.

These larger homes are needed to support people who are currently in overcrowded one- or two-bed flats to have opportunities to access larger family homes in the area. With the proposed East Barnwell redevelopment nearby, this will mean the council is investing in 251 new homes in Abbey with 73% –184 – being council homes, a net gain of 76 new council homes.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing and Homelessness, said: “Thank you to everyone who has been involved in feeding into our plans for Ekin Road. Officers have to consider so many factors in this process, and I’m delighted that we’ve been able to listen to people’s feedback and refine our proposals accordingly, while still making progress to address the pressing need to provide higher quality homes for our tenants.

“Our council house building programme is transforming residents' lives by providing new homes that are of a far higher standard than many ageing council homes. They are more energy efficient meaning they’re warmer and healthier, but also have lower energy bills.

“For those Ekin Road tenants who welcome a chance to move into new council homes, that process should thankfully begin soon after Housing Scrutiny Committee in June. For residents who do not want to move, I really hope this update reassures you that we are listening.

“We understand that anyone facing redevelopment will have lots of questions, and we’ll continue to be available to discuss any concerns you have and to support you throughout the process. Our track record of supporting residents during previous regeneration schemes speaks for itself and some of the case studies that can be seen online should provide reassurance as well.”

The council’s independent advisor, JLL, has updated its report for the council, taking into account the feedback received in recent weeks. 

The JLL report, with feedback from the consultation and the updated proposals, will be included as part of an officers’ report to be discussed at the council’s Housing Scrutiny Committee on 18 June. Further information about the process for relocating and supporting affected residents will also be set out ahead of the meeting, with information about indicative timings.

If the proposals are approved by councillors on 18 June, affected council tenants will be given priority status to bid for a new council tenancy from 19 June. It will take some time for all affected tenants to be matched, but support will be available throughout the process, with prioritisation also considering any tenants currently living in poorer conditions.