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Deadline met as 94 affordable homes complete at Alconbury Weald, Huntingdonshire

‘The lack of affordable housing is an issue across the country’

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Agreed by former Mayor James Palmer in 2020, it was left to the current Mayor Dr Nik Johnson to see at first hand completion of 94 affordable and shared rental homes in Huntingdonshire that his predecessor had agreed to help fund.

And for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) there was the satisfaction that the December deadline for completion – not looking too likely back in June – was hit.

Cllr Bridget Smith, CAPCA’s leading member of housing and communities, had warned in June that the Alconbury scheme risked not meeting its deadline as there had been “some delays experienced because of contractor issues, utilities delay and materials”.

On Friday, December 1, Mayor Johnson was able to tour the now completed site at The Boulevard, Alconbury Weald. Alconbury Weald photo by TERRY HARRIS

On Friday, December 1, Mayor Johnson was able to tour the now completed site at The Boulevard, Alconbury Weald. Alconbury Weald photo by TERRY HARRIS

But in the intervening period developers played ‘catch up’ and on Friday, December 1, Mayor Johnson was able to tour the completed site at The Boulevard, Alconbury Weald.

The scheme provides 65 affordable rented and 29 shared ownership homes, mainly for key workers, and was funded with a £4.4 million grant from CAPCA’s affordable housing programme. The homes are a mix of one to four bedrooms and will be managed by Longhurst Group.

CAPCA with the site owner Man GPM, the private markets business of Man Group, in conjunction with the developer Crest Nicholson, set out to provide affordable homes for key workers on the site.

Friday’s tour began with viewing the development and a visit to one of them following, followed by a gathering at the local café Bohemia.

As well as the Mayor, representatives of the community housing team at Man GPM and Longhurst attended, alongside Huntingdonshire district councillors Tom Sanderson and Ann Blackwell.

Residents are already enjoying living on the new development.

Tour of Alconbury Weald new housing by Mayor Dr Nik Johnson and others

Tour of Alconbury Weald new housing by developers and councillors 

Kayleigh Keiss who lives on the new development with her partner said: “We’re very pleased with our new home. It’s an upgrade for us as we were renting and didn’t have a garden or our own space. The house is open plan living and a lot bigger. We’re very, very happy.

“Shared ownership has made this affordable. We wouldn’t have been able to get onto the property ladder without shared ownership, so it’s definitely helped us get to this point.

“We also want to look into staircasing and owning a bigger share in the future.”

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Mayor Dr Nik Johnson said: “Affordable housing is a major issue for people in all parts of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, so it was fantastic to see the completion of 94 new, much-needed affordable homes.”

Shire Hall at Alconbury Weald

Cambridgeshire County Council New Shire Hall and new homes development, Alconbury Weald, Huntingdon
Thursday 12 October 2023. Picture by Terry Harris.

Shamez Alibhai, managing director and head of community housing at Man GPM, added: “We’re really proud of this site and the vibrant community that is being established around it.

“The lack of affordable housing is an issue across the country, and it has been a pleasure to work with our partners in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that share our mission and vision for increasing the supply of high-quality homes.”

Part of the new housing development at Alconbury Weald

Part of the new housing development at Alconbury Weald

Marcus Keys, Longhurst Group executive director of growth, development, and assets, said: “This is a new way of working between for-profit and not-for-profit registered housing providers.

“Man Group presented us with an opportunity to work on a long-term management agreement, bringing our experience and local knowledge to one of their first developments.

“Alconbury Weald is a flagship development that has created a vibrant new community and Longhurst Group is proud to be a part of that.”

CAPCA ‘s housing programme manager Azma Ahmad-Pearce, said: “I’m delighted with the completion of the project and how well received it has been. Many key workers will benefit from a new, affordable home, and it’s thanks to good partnership working with Man GPM that we can celebrate today.”

Man Group’s private market investment business, Man Global Private Markets (Man GPM) signed the deal to buy the site as part of its community housing strategy.

The strategy has the aim of securing both social and financial returns by building affordable homes.

Man GPM has previously said its main focus is the “squeezed middle class” who do not qualify for social housing but for whom mortgages are unaffordable.

 

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