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Cambridge City Council invests in much-needed low carbon homes

Future Cities Forum will be holding its next Cambridge 'Science Cities' event in February 2023 and will be discussing how Cambridge City Council is driving its climate change policies.

Ahead of COP 27, the Council has been highlighting its Annual Climate Change Strategy Report to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee this month, to recap on the measures it is taking to reduce the city's carbon emissions.

The council has worked to increase electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. Eighteen chargers for taxis have been installed with a further three to be completed by the end of the year. The council is working with Connected Kerb to provide a network of approximately 800 charging points in the council’s car parks. The first 56 chargers will be installed at Castle Hill, Adam and Eve and Gwydir Street pay and display car parks by the end of October.

The council is also working with Cambridgeshire County Council and UK Power Networks to facilitate charging points for residents.42 charge points are being installed in West Chesterton and Abbey wards as part of a pilot project to make the city more resilient to climate change and increase biodiversity, the council agreed its 2022 – 2030 Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in June. During 2021-22 the council planted almost 600 trees in streets and parks, and planted two small, wooded areas at Logan’s Meadow and at Five Trees Park, Chesterton.

Energy projects has seen the Council working with partners to reduce energy consumption in council homes as well as private homes across the city. In December 2021 the council was successful in its £6.46m consortium bid with other Cambridgeshire local authorities to the Government’s Sustainable Warmth Scheme. The project aims to support low-income residents in making energy efficiency improvements to their homes across Cambridgeshire from April 2022 to March 2023.

New homes are much needed in this successful but at times over-heating science city. The council is currently building 538 new homes for rent which meet high sustainability standards, using £70m Government funding via the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Devolution Deal. 166 homes have now been completed. The Council is also building new council homes to Passivhaus standards – a leading energy and performance standard which significantly reduces energy use from building. Construction has started on the councils Passivhaus pilot schemes at Fen Road, Ditton Fields, and Borrowdale.

Cambridge Investment Partnership has also received planning approval to build over 80 low carbon affordable homes on three new developments in the city. Aylesborough Close in Arbury ward will see 36 aging homes replaced with 70 low carbon council homes designed to Passivhaus standards, creating highly sustainable homes which will reduce running costs for residents. At Aragon Close and Sackville Close, both in the King’s Hedges ward of the city, each development will provide seven low carbon highly sustainable homes.

Aylesborough Close will see the replacement of a set of existing small flat blocks with three blocks, with homes ranging in size from one bedroom up to three bedrooms. The homes to be replaced no longer meet the requirements of residents, falling significantly short of current space standards and have very low energy efficiency ratings.

The three blocks will be accessed off Aylesborough Close, Jermyn Close/Fordwich Close and will feature a new green link along the northern boundary of the development. Existing green spaces will also be enhanced along the edges of the site and good quality existing trees will be retained along with new landscaping features and additional trees. A community garden with some play equipment and seating for residents to enjoy is also included.

At Aragon Close and Sackville Close, it will be replacing existing garages and hardstanding at each site with seven new two- bedroom low carbon council homes, designed using Passivhaus principles. The developments will also provide car parking, landscaping, and cycle storage. The homes will have very low energy use and heating costs, with thick highly insulated walls and gas free heating.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Executive Councillor for Housing at Cambridge City Council and CIP board member, said:

"We are committed to tackling the acute housing shortage in Cambridge by bringing forward sites which are underutilised or no longer fit for purpose to provide modern high quality affordable homes for local people within existing residential areas. I am also pleased to see that all the homes are designed to be accessible for any visitors using a wheelchair with a number designed for anyone in a wheelchair to be able to live in."

Tom Hill, Regional Director for Hill, said:

"We are delighted to have achieved approval for these three sites which meet our objectives of creating low carbon, environmentally and socially sustainable new places to live in Cambridge. We are also promoting sustainable travel within our developments with electric vehicle charging and pedestrian and cycle friendly routes to existing local amenities incorporated to ensure that we reduce the need to use cars."


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