Ely Labour Party calls for radical rethink and want 50 of the former RAF homes in the city to be set aside for social housing

PUBLISHED: 14:50 20 December 2018

Mayor James Palmer said that the site would be “refurbished, revamped” as he welcomed plans for the derelict site. Here he is pictured with leader of East Cambs District Council Cllr Charles Roberts. Picture: JAMES PALMER OFFICE

Mayor James Palmer said that the site would be “refurbished, revamped” as he welcomed plans for the derelict site. Here he is pictured with leader of East Cambs District Council Cllr Charles Roberts. Picture: JAMES PALMER OFFICE

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Ely Labour Party has called for East Cambridgeshire District Council to keep 50 of the former RAF homes in the city for social housing rather than the 15 they propose to set aside for ‘affordable’ homes.

Ed Carlsson Brown, Ely Labour’s housing spokesperson, challenged the council’s plan to sell on most of the bulk of the houses to private buyers “generating substantial profits to be shared with the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority”.

Labour believes buying the houses “is a once in a lifetime opportunity to provide much needed social housing for local families struggling to find somewhere affordable to rent in Ely.”

Mr Carlsson Brown said: “There is no need to sell off these publicly owned houses to make a quick profit. Like the luxury houses built on the Barton Road car park, the council is ignoring the needs of local residents to make a quick profit for the council’s own trading company by selling off public assets. We are challenging the council to

The Labour spokesperson said: “If the council retain 50 houses for local families the sale of the remaining 38 houses and surrounding land for development will generate funds to repay half the £24m loan from the mayor of the Combined Authority. East Cambridgeshire District Council can then raise the remaining funds from the Public Works Loan Board. “

He claimed the council’s plan to sell most of the homes on the Princess-of-Wales hospital site to private buyers would generate a huge profit.

“We say keep the majority of these homes for local families to pay social rents,” he said.

“Too many ordinary working families are being forced to move away due to unaffordable private rents and sky-high property prices. Building luxury homes on the Barton Road car park doesn’t help ordinary working families in Ely.

“Selling off the RAF homes to private buyers will only attract more people from Cambridge and beyond to move to Ely and add to the commuter congestion on the A10 and overcrowded trains.”

Labour says funding for new council house schemes is available on cheap 30 year terms from the Public Works Loan Board.

The combined authority has agreed to lend East Cambs District Council £24million to buy the 88 “derelict” former RAF homes in Ely, despite fears it represents a large proportion of the authority’s funding for affordable homes.

Buying the homes, which have been derelict for “a number of years”, was branded a “quick win” in bringing new affordable housing to the region.

This week East Cambridgeshire District Council said it would begin the first stage of setting up East Cambridgeshire Housing Association. They will then apply for stage one consent to the Social Housing Regulator to become a not-for-profit registered provider of affordable housing.

Councillor Charles Roberts, Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “This is a great step in the right direction for the council. If our full application is accepted, it will allow us to make our mark in providing our district the mixed tenure housing stock it needs.

“Whilst this is early stages, I am very excited for what’s potentially to come and the difference we could make for our district to provide local houses for local people.”

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