£800m devolution deal gets backing

Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council have both backed plans for the £800 million devolution deal for the county and Peterborough to go ahead.

The agreement will see a combined authority with representatives from seven councils and the local enterprise partnership chaired by a directly elected mayor.

The devolution deal will hasten the delivery of affordable housing with £70 million over five years, ring-fenced to the city council, for a ‘Cambridge Housing Plan’ which the council will spend on its plans for over 500 new council homes to help tackle the city’s housing affordability crisis. The council would use some £10 million of this fund to replace any of the 500 homes subsequently sold through the Right to Buy scheme.

A further £100 million affordable housing fund for affordable homes over five years across the proposed combined authority area, with a mix of tenures including affordable rented and low cost home ownership. In recognition of its high levels of growth and difficult housing market conditions, a substantial proportion of this funding would be directed at the Greater Cambridge area with delivery of the homes likely to be through housing associations.

There will also be a new £20 million annual fund for the next 30 years (£600 million) to support economic growth, development of local transport infrastructure and jobs.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, said: “Devolution will bring real benefits for Cambridge residents and the most important of these is funding for affordable housing for rent. At least 500 new council homes will be built in Cambridge plus hundreds of additional housing association rental homes for the Greater Cambridge area, helping us to address the local housing affordability crisis.

“We now have a real opportunity to work together to press for more devolution from government so that decisions can be made locally to provide even more housing and investment in our highly successful Greater Cambridge economy.”

Steve Count, interim leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “This decision is absolutely huge for the people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We are talking about £600 million for infrastructure, £170 million for housing, we're going to be able to decide locally what to do with skills funding and this give the people an opportunity to directly elect their mayor.”

The deal has been negotiated with government by Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council and The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Arrangements to hold elections for a mayor next May will now get under way alongside setting up a shadow combined authority.