Oxford-Cambridge Arc growth only possible if government increases support for affordable housing delivery

Published: Monday, 16th September 2019

Leading housing sector figures are gathering tomorrow at a roundtable organised by the Fast Growth Cities Network and Centre for Cities to set out a new plan to tackle the affordable housing crisis.

Representatives from housing developers, housing federations, housing associations and central and local government will be discussing the future challenges to housebuilding and sorting out the shortage of affordable housing in Britain’s high growth cities, where the cost of buying and renting housing has risen rapidly in recent years.

The five members of the Fast Growth Cities Network (Cambridge City, Milton Keynes, Oxford City, Norwich City and Swindon Borough councils) represent growth cities along and beyond the Oxford-Cambridge Arc that face major challenges with declining housing affordability and infrastructure investment.

The five cities have ambitious plans to deliver more affordable homes including for rent and council homes, and to address the climate change emergency by switching to net zero emission development.

The event will explore how the councils and partners can speed up affordable homes delivery to benefit the next generation of local families and match the rise in jobs with new homes. The event builds on a very effective joint session on tackling skills challenges earlier this year.

“We are committed to tackling the housing challenges that Oxford faces and finding ways to support the delivery of more affordable homes. We have successfully secured investment in infrastructure and affordable housing through our Housing and Growth Deal and are playing a direct role through our housing company and through our partnerships to accelerate the delivery of more homes. I am pleased to be working with the other leaders and partners from our fast growth partner cities and with senior government representatives to discuss what more can be done.

Cllr Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council and cabinet member for economic development and partnerships

“Our five cities make a vital research, innovation and employment contribution to the national economy and are at the heart of the extended Oxford-Cambridge Arc, which government recognises as a priority future zone for the whole of the UK.

“Sustainable growth in and near our cities will stall unless we increase the build rate of new affordable homes including for rent and council homes, and we need government funding and wider help so we can increase supply in the 2020s. Without that, the future risk is of massive inequality in our cities. We have to ensure that our lower income families are not forced to move out and then have to commute long distances to work or study. I look forward to working with partners at this meeting and beyond it to find a way forward to deliver more homes that are genuinely affordable and energy efficient low carbon homes too.”

Cllr Lewis Herbert, chair of the Fast Growth Cities group and leader of Cambridge City Council

The housing crisis is at its most acute in fast growing cities in the greater South East. For decades the national planning system has failed to keep up with the growing demand for housing in these cities.

“Without action the lack of homes will limit cities’ economic growth which will have implications not just for these cities but for the country’s prosperity. So it is encouraging that local leaders in the Fast Growth Cities Network are committed to action.”

Andrew Carter, chief executive of Centre for Cities

Attendees include representatives from the Housing and Finance Institute, Homebuilders Federation, Homes England, National Housing Federation, housing developers including Grosvenor and L&Q, housing associations, the National Infrastructure Commission as well as the political leaders of the five cities.

Logos of five councils