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Utilities, materials, and increased costs delay affordable homes project

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Time scales on delivering millions of pounds worth of affordable housing through funding by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) have slipped behind schedule.

Cllr Bridget Smith, lead member for housing and communities, says of the build programme that “issues with slippage have been numerous, with delays in laying utilities, and long disruptions in obtaining materials and increased costs, are sighted as the main causes, but projects are in progress.

“The programme is expected to come to completion by March 2025, as final projects will complete.

“All the sites are in construction. “

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Cllr Smith will give examples of the delays to the CAPCA environment and sustainable communities committee on June 12

There are delays, for instance, at Alconbury Weald where 94 affordable homes are being built, 29 shared ownership, for the Man GPM site, the redeveloped Alconbury airfield.

In March Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Dr Nik Johnson said: “It is truly fantastic to see this site at Alconbury Weald growing, and to see all of the families moving in and settling in to their new community.

“It is vital that we support our essential workers who have historically been priced out of the market for home ownership or rent, and homes like this ensure that they can afford to both live and work in the area.”

At the time of his visit, he said 44 homes had been completed with the remainder by the end of this year.

However, Cllr Smith will report to the committee that “some delays have been experienced at Alconbury Weald site, because of contractor issues, utilities delay and material delay issues.

“More recently improvements have been achieved at the site”.

Her report does not indicate if the December completion date is likely or not.

CAPCA requires to see 860 homes finished, on top of the 580 already completed, to complete an agreed affordable programme.

CAPCA requires to see 860 homes finished, on top of the 580 already completed, to complete an agreed affordable programme. Chart to be presented to committee on June 12

She says CAPCA requires to see 860 homes finished, on top of the 580 already completed, to complete an agreed affordable programme.

Cllr Smith says the programme started in 2017, with the target to deliver 2000 homes within a given period up until 2022.

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“This was part of the devolution deal,” she says.

“The affordable housing programme progressed into the pandemic years, with many issues arising that affected delivery.

“In 2021 DLUHC (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) decided to end the programme.

“In the subsequent year, a further 357 units were agreed grants by the housing and communities committee.”

“The project finishing in 2025, is Great Haddon and that is led by an outside contractor Countryside, as part of the south urban extension.

“Progress is being achieved on all other sites.”

Great Haddon will provide 49 homes off London Road, Great Haddon in Yaxley through £1.886m grant funding to Cross Keys Homes.

There is better news, however, for one other example she has quoted, for 14-16 High Street, Girton, Cambridge where £675,000 for 15 new homes in the form of almhouses, at Dovehouse Court, was agreed by CAPCA, in June 2021.

Work began on site on August 2, 2021, and should have been completed by June of this year.

Cllr Smith says actual completions to date shows only seven have been finished.

However, I am told that the Girton Town Charity that commissioned the scheme has now had ‘sign off’ on 12 of the 15 homes and the remainder can be expected to be approved by building regulators shortly.

The trust recently held an open day to celebrate competition of the project.

Cllr Smith’s report says the scheme “has had many defects, such as windows needing replacement, and they have been ordered. This has set back this project completion.”

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