District council completes deal to transform Ely MOD site

A multi-million pound investment into the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) estate in Ely will create

A multi-million pound investment into the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) estate in Ely will create 92 homes. Picture: EAST CAMBS DISTRICT COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

A multi-million pound transformation of the former Ministry of Defence (MoD) estate in Ely will create 92 homes.

The site, which has been bought by East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC), includes 88 houses that were no longer needed after US Air Force personnel moved out.

The ownership of the site, which is located next to the Princess of Wales Hospital, has been transferred directly to the council's trading arm, East Cambs Trading Company.

The transformation of the site will be made possible thanks to a loan of £24.4million provided by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

There is an additional loan of £1.5m from the district council.

The existing homes will be renovated and the number of properties increased to 92.

Of those, 15 will be provided as shared ownership affordable homes for people who live or work locally.

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The remainder will be refurbished and sold on the open market over the next two years.

Councillor Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: "We're thrilled to get this development underway and deliver this vitally important housing at no cost to our residents.

"I am delighted that we have been able to effectively intervene and take a site that is currently unoccupied and improve it - not just into houses, but homes."

As part of the first phase of the development, there are also plans to make improvements to the street scene and create additional off-road parking.

Subject to planning permission, a second phase to the development will see the trading arm company submit an application to build additional homes within the former MoD estate.

If the plans are given the go-ahead, the council will proactively look to deliver over and above the local planning policy's 30 per cent affordable housing requirement.

It will earmark more of the new-build properties specifically for those who work or live in the local area.

The closure of the MoD housing site began in September 2012 with the last remaining properties being vacated earlier this year.

It was originally built to provide housing for service families working at bases around Ely including RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall.

Andrew Pullen-Jones from the defence infrastructure organisation, said: "We are delighted that we have been able to work with East Cambridgeshire District Council to bring forward this site for housing.

"This is a great example of how land which is no longer required by the MOD can be used to benefit local communities."

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, James Palmer, said that they want to deliver "as many affordable homes as possible".

He said: "This loan will bring 92 much-needed new homes to the market, including affordable homes within a Community Land Trust structure.

"These properties will be delivered at zero cost to the taxpayer and furthermore, the money will be repaid, with interest, on completion, allowing us to recycle the money for reuse on further housing developments.

"To me, the benefits of bringing homes which have sat empty, into use, unlocking affordable housing at the same time, with no taxpayer burden, is a clear and obvious opportunity.

"Of course, we all want to deliver as many affordable homes as possible.

"Yes, we could have sunk more taxpayers' money into the scheme, to increase the proportion of affordable homes, as was their wish. But this public money would have been gone for good.

"By placing the affordable homes within a Community Land Trust, we will be able to ensure local families have access to rental properties at rates potentially lower than offered by housing associations.

"This will allow tenants to effectively work and save for a property of their own.

"Those homes will be managed by local trustees, and maintained in perpetuity for future generations to benefit from."