UK news Councillor doubts Cambs Combined Authority will meet affordable housing targets last minute news
PremierLeague-News.Com- The government has withheld funds for the project
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! A councillor has raised concerns that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority may not meet its agreement with the government to help deliver 2,000 new affordable homes in five years. The Combined Authority’s housing committee voted on Monday (January 11) to “hold back on” completing already “unconditionally” approved schemes totalling 249 homes, mostly in the north of the county, as part of a “swap” to prioritise other projects due to start sooner. The Combined Authority says it still expects all projects for which grant agreements are being held back to go ahead on their original timetables and without delays. It says further government funding is expected “imminently” and that the suspension is only a “backup”. The government committed £100 million to the Combined Authority to help deliver 2,000 new affordable homes over five years, as part of the 2017 devolution deal. Last year the Combined Authority said the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has withheld £15 million expected in the 2019/20 financial year for the programme, and that a further £30 million for the current financial year, 2020/21, is yet to be received. The authority’s housing director, Roger Thompson, told the committee: “We are still on target to deliver the 2,000 unit target by March 2022”. Read More Related Articles Meet the Lib Dem candidate for the Cambridgeshire mayoral election Read More Related Articles Meet the Conservative candidate for the Cambridgeshire mayoral election 'Too much hope, not enough reality' But Labour councillor Mike Sargeant raised doubts over the progress made so far, noting that schemes are now having to be approved subject to receiving further funds and that another part of the programme, 297 homes in Northstowe, now may not be completed on time. “I note the director’s optimism in terms of delivering the 2,000 – I’m not convinced that I share it at the moment,” he said. “We are nearly four years into the programme, we have just over a year to go, and we are going to get 75 per cent of the schemes on-site in that short period – it just doesn’t add up to me.” He added: “We need a further 1,500 starts on site in 15 months – that seems an incredible ask, and I don’t feel reassured by the director on this. “Obviously it’s a very bad situation that we are having to shuffle schemes, and I’m very concerned that the ones that we are, in effect, suspending for a while might fail completely if we are not careful. "Because although we have said to the housing associations and developers that we will support them, we are in effect, as I understand it, telling them we are not actually going to make that final decision until after March, and they may be looking either to other funding sources or they may actually be deciding to pull up sticks”. He said: “£15 million of the outstanding amount is overdue by 16 months now, for you now to expect the floodgates to open in the next two and a half months, I just feel there’s too much hope here and not enough actual reality. And I think we are facing a real crisis shortly on this, and I don’t see that we have a plan B really as to how we are going to move forward”. Read More Related Articles Meet Labour's candidate for the Cambridgeshire mayoral election Read More Related Articles 6 of the biggest things to have happened in Cambs in 2020 'We are confident' The authority’s housing director, Mr Thompson, said: “We were always expecting to find that this programme to a degree was going to be backloaded. "An example of that is that since we wrote this report before Christmas, 94 units have now started on site, and we are expecting that to be over 1,000 units by the end of March, which is part of the reason that we are asking the committee to take the action that we are requesting today”. He added: “The remainder of this programme we are now confident will be starting on site within the timescales that we require. We are still confident. “Our risk at the moment is clearly around the MHCLG review and just getting confirmation of these monies, because yes there is a concern that if this goes on too long then it will potentially start to raise issues with our delivery partners. “We are not waiting until March to do anything. As soon as we get the approval from MHCLG the agreements that we are suggesting that we – and we may have used an inappropriate word in terms of suspend – that we just hold back on in terms of signing our grant agreements, those agreements are all still being worked on and hopefully they will be there ready to go as soon as we get the nod from MHCLG”. He said the Combined Authority “haven’t got absolute certainty of having the money in the bank”.
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. We can’t deliver the units if we don’t get the cash”. He added: “The frustrating thing from my point of view is that the programme is there to be delivered. If we approve the unit numbers today, we will be at almost 1,800 units [approved], we can see that we are going to be at hopefully just over 1,000 units started on-site by the end of March. “We can see the programme being delivered. It’s there, it’s very tantalising. It’s dangling there, and we just need the support from our partners at MHCLG and other places to help us push this over the line”.
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To follow Ben on Twitter click here. To like his Facebook page and keep up to date with the latest local democracy news from around Cambridge, press here. Or simply visit Cambridgeshire Live's main Facebook page here for all our latest stories. New schemes approved The schemes which were “suspended” are as follows: 67 affordable homes in Staniland Court, Werrington, Peterborough; 50 in Norwood Road, 19 in Hereward Hall and 21 in Queens Street, all in March town centre; 64 in RAF Upwood in Ramsey; and 28 in Stanground, Peterborough. The schemes which were prioritised are: 16 affordable homes in Wicken, East Cambridgeshire; 21 in More’s Meadow, Great Shelford; five in All Angels Park, Highfields, Caldecote, South Cambridgeshire; 40 in Springfield Avenue, Fenland; five in Sandpit Road, Thorney, Peterborough; a further 19 in Peterborough across different sites; and 96 in Newark Road, as part of Perkins, phase two, in Peterborough. The decision also allowed freed up funds to allow the committee to approve three further schemes. These include a £1,576,000 grant for 38 homes, 28 at an affordable rent and 10 shared ownership units at Wisbech Road, Littleport, East Cambridgeshire; a £749,000 grant to enable the delivery of 15 additional affordable homes, all for social rent in Huntingdonshire; and a grant of £2,270,000 to enable the delivery of 60 affordable homes, with a mixture of affordable rent and shared ownership units in Peterborough. East Cambridgeshire District Council’s representative, Conservative councillor David Ambrose-Smith, offered his support to the housing director. He said: “I believe what you have done and your confidence deserves support, and I believe what we have had put in front of us over the last few months deserves support. “We have these difficulties from MHCLG, we do have those difficulties, I appreciate that, but I think you are trying to get over it. You have my support 100 per cent. Well done, keep up the efforts”. The committee heard that Cambridge City Council’s own affordable housing programme agreed under the devolution deal, worth £70 million, is progressing without issue. A spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “Any suggestion that we are not supporting the delivery of affordable housing in the local area is incorrect. We have provided £55 million to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority to deliver affordable housing in the area since 2017 and are reviewing their progress as part of our regular monitoring of devolution deals across the country. “We’re increasing the supply of affordable housing across England, including in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with the biggest single funding commitment to affordable housing in a decade.”