A village dies if it cannot provide affordable homes for its next generation.
Our elderly are living longer and longer in their own homes yet we need homes for the younger generation setting up independently or all the other reasons that increase demand beyond the available supply and drive prices further out of reach for local people.
Some say we should just build a lot of new houses to fix the problem. We know that just creates new problems for our community, education, health facilities and transport infrastructure. In practice, it becomes just an opportunity for some landowners and developers to make a lot of money, leaving behind many challenges for the local community. Those challenges can be sweetened by substantial “s106” financial payments to help, if communities are ready and able to provide the facilities.
Aggravating the situation is the limited prioritisation of local people. Builders need to sell the homes quickly; so local people, while given priority on some of those affordable homes for a limited period, often end up with none.
At best, for every affordable home offered to local people, the builder is allowed to build around five homes and even the affordable ones are only affordable by half those that want them.
The Neighbourhood Plan research shows that currently, there are about 100 families in Cottenham with household incomes above the level where they are entitled to state-subsidised accommodation yet unable to afford a so-called affordable home.
The 500 or so homes permitted between Oakington road and Rampton Road should deliver around 200 affordable homes but only 50 or so of “Cottenham” families may be able to afford them; what can we do for the other 50?
The answer may lie with our own landowners and a local developer. A “not for profit” developer, like the Cottenham Community Land Trust, working with a socially-conscious landowner aims to build 60 houses, with 50 of those priced to be affordable by local people on local incomes.
This is the dream. The nightmare is to force those people to move away from the communities in which they have invested their lives or build yet another 500 houses in an attempt to bring prices down.
Learn more at www.cottenhampc.org.uk/neighbourhood-plan or follow “Cottenham Community Land Trust” on Facebook.