6.2 Homes

Map showing proposed locations and amounts of new homes in the Area Action Plan.

Figure 32: Map graphic showing broad locations and quantities of new homes envisaged in North East Cambridge

There is significant housing demand in Greater Cambridge due to a range of factors including affordability issues, population growth and the area's strong local economy and its sub-regional significance. Within this context the key strand of sustainable development is securing mixed communities that are inclusive to everyone and appropriately mixed in terms of demographics, household types and tenures. Through mixed use development, we want to see the Area Action Plan area developed that provides households with a genuine range of housing that meets our forecast needs – enabling people who work in the area to live locally, reducing the need to commute or own a car, and ensuring we create mixed balanced communities.

Housing quantity and mix

  • A mix of dwelling sizes, including some family sized units, was generally supported with several respondents commenting there is also demand for smaller, more affordable units on the site. There was strong support for housing for local workers in order to encourage low levels of car ownership and commuting; however, some expressed concern over how this would be delivered, and others felt that policy should be directed by demand, market trends and viability in this regard.
  • There was broad agreement that the development of North East Cambridge should seek to provide a proportion of specialist housing, such as purpose built Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), housing for disabled people and older age groups, students and Travellers; however, it was considered that a greater understanding of the current situation in terms of demand, need and viability of these various housing sectors would be required in order to inform the Area Action Plan.
  • One respondent felt that student accommodation would not be appropriate for the area, and another felt that Traveller accommodation would not accord with the proposed higher density nature of the Area Action Plan area.
  • Respondents were of the view that the Area Action Plan should achieve high quality housing. Most said these should be in line with national internal and external residential space standards for housing at North East Cambridge, including for HMOs, with one representation stressing that, for the well-being of future occupiers, these should be seen as minimum and not optimum standards to be adhered to. One respondent said there may be appropriate exceptions and another said there could be no requirements if new homes are delivered in a high quality way.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • In line with the comments received, the policy seeks to ensure that a range of homes will be delivered within North East Cambridge that provide a range of types, tenures and sizes. The provision of affordable housing is an integral part of the development which has been incorporated into the policy.
  • Internal and external space standards are prescribed in Policy 11: Housing design standards.
  • No specific provision of Housing in Multiple Occupation has been included within the policy however the policy does not restrict them from coming forward. It is also forecast that some market homes will become Houses of Multiple Occupation over time. The on-site provision of lower density housing would not optimise the best use of this edge of city site and would not support the vision and strategic objectives of the Area Action Plan.

Affordable housing

  • The majority of respondents agreed that the plan should require 40% of housing to be affordable and include a mix of affordable tenures and size of units. This was considered key to the socio-economically inclusive vision for North East Cambridge.
  • Whilst there was support for the affordable housing to be spread evenly across the whole site, others considered a different approach may be required for some developments, such as off-site contributions toward affordable housing.
  • Several respondents felt that the agreed proportion of affordable units should be strictly adhered to and enforced with no reduction allowed for viability issues.
  • There was general support for an element of the affordable housing provision at North East Cambridge to be aimed specifically at essential local workers and for a proportion of the overall development to provide some custom build opportunities; however, one respondent considered North East Cambridge not to lend itself to this type of development stating such provision would result in a lack of design cohesion for the area.
  • Most respondents felt that provision of affordable housing was important. Some emphasised the need for this to be subject to viability; others were concerned about developers using the viability argument to avoid provision, and the need for the Council to enforce the affordable housing requirement. The private rented sector was mentioned as an area where a different approach might be needed other than providing traditional on-site affordable housing.
  • Other responses included: social/affordable rent should be provided elsewhere; 40% affordable housing should be applied to the site as a whole, subject to viability; the need for social/affordable rent for local families; the need for affordable housing for Science Park workers; need for affordable housing to be genuinely affordable; and the need for an overarching long term vision in relation to affordable housing

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • The policy requires 40% of major residential developments to be affordable, in line with the adopted local plan (2018) standards. It provides specific detail on the affordable tenures including social and affordable rent.
  • The policy sets design criteria to ensure that new affordable homes are of the highest standards and are designed to reduce their operational costs to support those living within them.
  • The policy also requires early engagement with the Councils to secure new affordable housing based on the most up to date evidence of need.

Housing for local workers

  • Responses were overall supportive of making provision for local workers in the Area Action Plan area. There was a consensus that a need for decisions on whether housing should be tethered to employment should be based on evidence; need for people to be able to live and work locally; and housing should be genuinely affordable and available to lower paid and local workers, including those on the housing register.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • The policy sets out that a proportion of new affordable homes be made available for local key workers to address local housing needs. This would help achieve a mixed and balanced community which would also help to support the local economy.

Build to Rent

  • Whilst there was some support for including Build to Rent as part of the wider housing mix across North East Cambridge, others urged caution suggesting this sector should be discouraged as it could drive up house prices in the area, serving only to benefit developer profits rather than the local community.
  • Several comments suggested involving a local housing association and/or local Councils to manage Build to Rent provision, including any associated facilities, services and amenities. This approach would ensure any Build to Rent schemes contribute towards creating a mixed and sustainable community.
  • One respondent felt that more evidence was needed about the current demand and need for Build to Rent housing in the locality.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • The Councils have commissioned research to understand the Built to Rent market and demand across Greater Cambridge and the wider housing market area. Whilst this evidence has suggested a strong demand for Build to Rent homes, the preferred approach is to ensure that no placemaking or good growth objectives are compromised by bringing forward a significant number of Build to Rent schemes at North East Cambridge. This will be achieved by managing the overall number of Build to Rent units within the Area Action Plan area and careful consideration of their distribution across the area.
  • The policy makes provision for longer term tenancies offering housing security and reassurance for occupiers as well as a longer-term stake in North East Cambridge for new residents. Maintaining high management standards and ensuring all Build to Rent schemes include affordable provision is key to achieving the mixed, inclusive neighbourhood vision for North East Cambridge.

Custom Build

  • Responses on custom build were generally supportive. Respondents stated the need for better evidence to understand need, demand and viability. They also suggested that this might provide an opportunity to maximise variety and interest, but stated that these would need to adhere to the standards of being low or zero carbon homes and of high design standards.

How your comments have been taken into account

  • A level of custom build is being included to enable North East Cambridge to respond to custom build need. This housing provision will be not be exempt from sustainability policies, and will need to contribute towards delivering the vision and strategic objectives of the Area Action Plan.

Short term/corporate lets and visitor accommodation

  • You commented that, should the development provide high numbers of short-term lets, the area may lack a sense of place.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • The proposed policy restricts rental uses such as Airbnb that involve the loss of residential units and will allow purpose-built serviced apartments to provide for corporate lettings that might otherwise occupy a residential unit.

Policy 13a: Housing

Proposals that secure an appropriate mix of housing on site and contribute to the creation of inclusive and mixed balanced communities will be supported. All proposals for residential development will need to have regard to:

  1. the Councils' latest evidence on housing need as set out in the Joint Housing Strategy (or any future update).
  2. Delivering high quality higher density homes (see Policy 9: Density, heights, scale and massing and Policy 11: Housing design standards) that contain a balanced mix of type, size, tenure and affordability, including family sized accommodation (2+ bedroom);
  3. Ensuring homes of different types and tenures are both integrated and visually indistinguishable from one another;
  4. Delivering 40% of all net additional units to be affordable housing through a combination of public funding, investment by institutional investors, registered providers and developer contributions (see Policy 13b: Affordable housing and Policy 27: Planning Contributions);
  5. Ensuring that appropriate provision is made in suitable locations for specialist housing needs such as accommodation for older people, and people with disabilities or others needing specialist housing.

The Area Action Plan makes provision for at least 8,000 net dwellings in accordance with the distribution set out in the table below and the Area Action Plan Spatial Framework. Residential units in addition to the table below will need to be considered alongside the other policies of the Area Action Plan and adopted local development plan. Particular reference is drawn to Policy 22: Managing motorised vehicles , to ensure that future development does not compromise the trip budget for the area.

Development Parcel

Minimum net additional dwellings

Anglian Water / Cambridge City Council site

5,500

Cambridge Business Park

500

Cambridge Science Park

0

Chesterton Sidings

730

Cowley Road Industrial Estate

500

Merlin Place

120

Milton Road Garage Site

100

Nuffield Road Industrial Estate

550

St Johns Innovation Park

0

Trinity Hall Farm Industrial Estate

0

Total

8,000

While the majority of new homes will be provided in higher density apartment blocks, there is scope for an element of family sized homes (2+ bedroom) to be delivered and for institutional housing to cater for specialist needs.

Policy 13b: Affordable housing

The Area Action Plan requires 40% of new homes to be delivered as affordable housing. To achieve this, all housing that provides 10 or more net additional dwellings should incorporate affordable housing in line with Policy 27: Planning Contributions, in accordance with the proportions and tenures set out the latest local affordable housing guidance, and must consider as a minimum:

  • An assessment of unmet housing need based on the latest evidence;
  • The existing supply of affordable housing in the local area, including the size and type of affordable tenure;
  • Affordability of the homes in the context of local rent levels, house prices and local incomes;
  • The financial viability of the proposed scheme.

It is expected that a minimum of 60% of the affordable homes will be social/affordable rent (i.e. housing currently set at Social and/or Affordable Rents) to provide a balanced mix appropriate to the development but still prioritising this tenure.

Early involvement of the Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service, Housing Services and registered providers in site discussions and design is strongly encouraged at the pre-application stage, in order to ensure that the affordable housing will meet relevant standards, respond to the latest evidence of need, and achieve planning and site management requirements.

Given the aim to create a mixed community, the expectation is that on-site provision is the most appropriate to achieve this aim. Affordable housing design should:

  • follow the agreed standards set out in Policy 9: Density, heights, scale and massing;
  • not be visually distinguishable from market housing by its external appearance or the space standards adopted;
  • be well integrated and distributed across the site in groups of affordable homes and not be confined to less prominent parts of the site as a whole or any individual location.

This policy recognises that tenure and rent levels alone do not achieve affordability and, as such this policy is intended to be considered alongside those that contribute to the living costs associated with the location and design of someone's home. These policies include:

Policy 3: Energy and associated infrastructure, as homes that are highly energy efficient can lead to reduced utility costs, making homes more affordable to live in; 

Policy 16: Sustainable Connectivity as homes located near employment centres, active travel facilities and public transport links also reduce the cost of living for households, particularly benefiting those on lower to middle incomes.

It is also recognised that Build to Rent Schemes deliver fewer than 40% affordable homes, and that this shortfall needs to be made up for by other schemes coming forward in North East Cambridge.

Policy 13c: Build to Rent

Build to Rent should be provided in a balanced way across North East Cambridge without being the dominant typology of homes in any location to ensure that specific areas contain mixed housing types and tenures, in line with Policy 13a: Housing and Policy 13b: Affordable housing. To achieve this, schemes that prioritise distribution of Build to Rent across developments will be preferred. No more than 10% of the total housing across the Area Action Plan should be Build to Rent, i.e. a maximum of 800 homes across North East Cambridge.

Any Build to Rent scheme must comply with the following:

  1. individual schemes to be under common ownership and management control for the long term;
  2. dwellings to be retained as Build to Rent under a covenant for at least 15 years with a clawback mechanism and compensation mechanism if the covenant is broken;
  3. include a minimum of 20% affordable private rent units, which will be counted towards overall 40% affordable housing figure;
  4. ensure all units are self-contained;
  5. offer rent certainty for the period of the tenancy;
  6. offer longer tenancies (three years or more) to all tenants and break clauses for tenants, which would allow a tenant to end the tenancy with a month's notice any time after the first six months;
  7. have on-site management, this does not necessarily mean full-time dedicated on-site staff, but all schemes need to have systems for prompt resolution of issues and some daily on-site presence;
  8. ensure providers have a complaints procedure in place.

Affordable private rent

At least 20% of units developed as part of Build to Rent schemes in North East Cambridge will be affordable private rent delivered on site. This will contribute to the 40% affordable homes target of Policy 13a: Housing and Policy 13b: Affordable housing. These should be targeted to local workers where possible to comply with Policy 13d: Housing for local workers..

Affordable private rent is considered to be:

  • a minimum rent discount of 20% for equivalent local private rent homes, inclusive of service charges, taking into account up to date evidence on local rent levels and incomes;
  • held under common management control together with the market homes;
  • evenly distributed throughout the development physically; indistinguishable from market rent units in terms of quality and size; and
  • maintained as affordable in perpetuity.

Policy 13d: Housing for local workers

Due to the significant affordability challenges for many local workers, it is expected that developments including affordable private rent as part of their affordable housing allocation demonstrate how these homes will be targeted to meet local worker need.

Development proposals for purpose built Private Rented Sector homes such as Build to Rent, which are offered to employers within and adjacent to North East Cambridge on a block-lease basis, will be supported. This can include whole developments or parts of developments. These schemes still need to meet the 40% affordable housing target (see also Policy 13c: Build to Rent).

Policy 13e: Custom Build

On major developments, 2% of net additional homes should be brought forward as custom finish units. Given the high-density nature of North East Cambridge, it is expected that these would be apartments built to a shell finish where occupiers determine the final layout and internal finish. This could include the location of internal walls, doors and fittings. Developers should clearly set out how the need for custom finish has been considered and addressed within development proposals.

All custom finish units need to meet the accessibility and space standards set out in Policy 11: Housing design standards.

Policy 13f: Short term/corporate lets and visitor accommodation

New visitor accommodation

Proposals for new purpose-built visitor accommodation will be supported subject to:

  1. there being a proven need for visitor accommodation to serve the area;
  2. the development will not result in the loss of existing housing;
  3. it being located in a district or local centres or within a business or science park;
  4. the accommodation provided should be of high-quality with wheelchair accessible units/rooms and communal spaces;
  5. Proposals should minimise need to travel by private vehicle and should promote sustainable modes of transport.

Serviced apartments, if approved, will be conditioned so that they cannot be used for permanent residential use.

Conversion of existing visitor accommodation to residential use

Proposals to change purpose-built serviced apartment units (excluding apart-hotels) to residential use will only be supported in circumstances where the whole block of units are converted and not sub-divided, including the application of the relevant housing policies and relevant affordable housing provision.

Conversion of existing residential uses to visitor accommodation

Proposals to change residential units or land in residential use to visitor accommodation will only be supported in exceptional circumstances where it can be proven that the conversion will:

  1. not adversely affect the supply or affordability of local housing including rental values;
  2. not adversely affect residents' amenity and sense of security;
  3. not adversely affect the local area's character or community cohesion;
  4. include a service management plan, agreed by the local planning authority and conditioned as appropriate, which will cover all planning relating aspects of the use of the site that will facilitate and minimise planning enforcement of the site.

Relevant Objective: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The adopted 2018 Local Plans for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire District Councils identify the need for 33,500 new homes across Greater Cambridge to cover the period until 2031. Both plans identify North East Cambridge as a key location for future growth, the total amount to be determined through the preparation of this Area Action Plan and are not part of the adopted 2018 Local Plans' numbers. It is anticipated that North East Cambridge can therefore make a significant contribution to meeting the housing requirement for the emerging Greater Cambridge Local Plan.

Higher density mixed-use development at North East Cambridge will make efficient use of previously developed brownfield land and maximise the benefits to the local area (see Policy 9). Comprehensive development within the Area Action Plan area will ensure that development will make a significant contribution towards meeting the housing needs of the community. Development at North East Cambridge will need to provide a range of homes for potential residents including single person households, families, older people, people who require specialist accommodation and people wishing to customise their own homes at the construction stage. Such provision will help support housing diversity and sustainable good growth across Greater Cambridge. Specialist accommodation, including older persons and people with disabilities, should be located within close walking distance to local facilities and services.

The housing topic paper currently identifies that development at North East Cambridge should provide the range of housing sizes, types and tenures set out in the policy. Nevertheless, it is recognised that this identified need is subject to change based on a range of factors and should respond to the latest housing evidence. It is therefore important that applicants engage with Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service through the pre-application process to confirm the latest evidenced need to inform residential development proposals.

Low density housing, such as Travellers accommodation, is unlikely to optimise the development potential of North East Cambridge and is therefore not consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework which requires development to make efficient use of land, in particular brownfield sites in close proximity to public transport hubs.

Affordable housing

Greater Cambridge is an expensive place to live. High demand and limited supply, combined with a strong local economy, contribute to the high cost of renting or owning a home in the city. Housing options for households on low and medium incomes are limited and reliant on social or affordable rents. As identified in the Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy, 'affordable rent' (up 80% of market rents) is unaffordable to many, which has created a growing 'affordability gap' where middle income households are being squeezed out of the market; with limited housing options for low cost home ownership or within the private rented sector. The demand for housing for these groups far outstrips the current supply.

The provision of truly affordable housing in close proximity to employment opportunities and transport links at North East Cambridge is a priority for both Councils. All residents in Greater Cambridge should be able to access affordable accommodation that meets their needs, to ensure that the city can meet its accommodation needs in a sustainable way. In order to support this objective 40% of net additional dwellings delivered at North East Cambridge will be required to be affordable to enable the Councils to work towards meeting their wider housing needs and addressing inequality. The above policy seeks to maximise the supply of new affordable housing without constraining overall housing delivery and will be subject to whole plan viability testing. It also recognises that there may be affordability issues with regard to household expenses that can be addressed on a scheme by scheme basis to manage affordability.

The policy requires that a minimum of 60% of affordable homes be provided at social/affordable rents and 40% through the provision of a range of intermediate housing products, as evidenced in the Housing Topic Paper (2020). This takes into account the high level of need for social/affordable rent homes, but also presents opportunities around newly emerging affordable housing tenures to create a more mixed and balanced community by housing tenure and housing income and to meet a wider range of housing needs.

Providing truly affordable homes at North East Cambridge means ensuring that, alongside the provision of social/affordable rent, a range of intermediate products is delivered on the site to meet the widest range of needs including local households on middle incomes. Intermediate housing is housing other than social/affordable rent that meets the definition of affordable housing, including affordable routes to home ownership such as Rent to Buy and Shared Ownership, which provides opportunities for households who would struggle to buy on the open market to purchase a share in a new home and pay a rent on the remaining unsold share.

To respond to variable national and local economic conditions and policy requirements, the balance between different affordable tenure types needs to be informed by the latest evidence. The policy requires a minimum of 60% social and affordable rent homes that ensure North East Cambridge is accessible for the widest range of people. This tenure make-up of this 60% needs to be agreed in line with the latest evidence and therefore the policy recommends that developers engage in pre-application discussions with the Councils to define this.

Build to Rent

As part of the plan making process, the National Planning Policy Framework requires local planning authorities to take into account the need for a range of housing types and tenures in their area including provisions for those who wish to rent. In Greater Cambridge, there is significant rental demand from young professionals to live in the city centre. Build to Rent schemes can make a contribution to increasing local housing supply and accelerating delivery on individual sites. Build to Rent developments can play an important role in providing overall housing choice within North East Cambridge.

There are some fears that large concentrations of Build to Rent would undermine placemaking as it could lead to more short-term tenants and transient communities.

To help mitigate this, under the National Planning Policy Framework, Build to Rent is normally expected to offer longer-term tenancies than normally available in the private rented sector. Build to Rent schemes are also normally expected to be under single ownership, which can provide a greater commitment to, and investment in, placemaking as they are subject to single management standards.

The Councils accept that there is a demand for Build to Rent homes within Greater Cambridge and specifically at North East Cambridge and that Build to Rent schemes can deliver homes at a faster rate than conventional market housing. Nevertheless, it is critical that North East Cambridge provides a range of new homes of different types and tenures. The over proliferation of Build to Rent homes within North East Cambridge has the significant potential to undermine good placemaking principles of creating balanced and mixed communities. To ensure that Build to Rent can make a strong contribution to good growth without undermining placemaking or impacting affordable housing targets, the policy therefore seeks to manage the number and clustering of Build to Rent schemes across the Area Action Plan area to achieve a balanced community in line with Policy 1: A comprehensive approach at North East Cambridge.

To achieve the Area Action Plan's objectives, it is encouraged that developers wishing to include Build to Rent within their schemes engage in pre-application discussions with the Councils to ensure that the proposal is responsive to the latest housing evidence on unit sizes and the tenure types in local area.

Build to Rent proposals need to satisfy the eligibility criteria set out within this policy, and any subsequent Build to Rent Policy adopted by the Councils, to ensure schemes are well managed and tenants have some choice in how long they can remain in their homes. The mechanism for providing affordable housing should be agreed with the Councils but is likely to be secured through a legal agreement. Given the aim is to create a mixed community, the expectation is that on-site provision is the most appropriate to achieve this aim.

Housing for local workers

North East Cambridge has the potential to be transformed from an edge of city employment centre into a truly mixed used neighbourhood where the majority of journeys are made via active travel. An ambition for North East Cambridge is that it designates some housing for local workers, including some which could potentially be tethered to specific employers in the Area Action Plan area. This could help ensure that housing on the site is suitable and sufficiently affordable for local workers on a range of incomes.

Both Councils signalled an ambition in the Greater Cambridge Housing Strategy to work with local employers to provide accommodation that can support local workers. South Cambridgeshire prioritises exploring helping businesses to provide homes for their workers; and considering whether there are specific requirements to provide essential local worker accommodation as part of the overall mix of housing. Cambridge City Council has prioritised other mechanisms, including providing some priority to those in employment in the allocation of social/affordable rent where appropriate.

To meet the Area Action Plan's ambitions of low car ownership and creating a cohesive community, homes should be prioritised for local employment sites to support the local economy. In establishing the link between employment and residential uses, by integrating homes and workplaces, not only are trips taken off the road, but the operational cost of living is reduced, thereby contributing to the commitment of truly affordable homes outlined in Policy 13a: Housing and Policy 13b: Affordable housing.

Block leasing for the purposes of this policy refers to a number of Build to Rent units within a development being leased by one employer or company within, or adjacent to, North East Cambridge for the purposes of housing their staff. Overall management of the Build to Rent units within the block remains the responsibility of the Build to Rent operator.

Custom finish housing

The Councils have a duty to identify land or plots which meet the needs of those registered on their Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Registers. There are currently at least four community groups looking to build their own homes in the Greater Cambridge area through community-led housing models and just under 400 applicants have registered an interest in self and/or custom build housing across Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire. To address some of this need North East Cambridge should include provision for custom build homes.

Due to the high-density nature of North East Cambridge, it is anticipated that the provision of serviced plots for self-build housing is unlikely to be feasible. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for development to provide self-finish apartments, where future occupiers are able to decide internal layouts and finishes. In order to meet some of the need identified on the Council's registers, and to diversify the types of homes within North East Cambridge, schemes of 11 units or more will be required to provide around 2% of new apartments to a self-finish standard.

Visitor accommodation including corporate and short term lets

Other than traditional hotels, visitor accommodation such as apart-hotels and serviced apartments can take various forms. Some accommodation offered at apart-hotels and serviced apartments display characteristics associated with permanent, self-contained housing. Some is more akin to hotels, as a result of the type of services they provide, and, as such, may consequently result in different impacts to permanent housing. Apart-hotels and serviced apartments may therefore fall within the C1 Use Class or be a sui generis use, depending on their characteristics, such as (amongst others):

  • presence of on-site staff/management
  • presence of reception, bar and/or restaurant
  • provision of cleaning and administrative services
  • ownership or other tenure of units and/or ability to sell or lease on the open market
  • minimum/maximum lease lengths

Developers will be required to provide full details of the nature of the accommodation to be provided and the proposed terms of occupation when submitting a planning application for an Airbnb type use, new apart-hotels and serviced apartments.

Where proposals for apart-hotels or serviced apartments are considered to fall within C3 use class proposals or comprise sui generis uses which have the characteristics of a C3 use, such proposals will be conditioned accordingly, to ensure that these are not used as permanent residential units.

The Area Action Plan makes the provision for a significant amount of new homes and jobs. Visitor accommodation will contribute towards the functioning of the area and it is therefore appropriate that the Area Action Plan supports the principle of visitor accommodation. To minimise the impact of visitor accommodation on residential amenity and the use of private cars, visitor accommodation should be directed towards areas with good public transport with appropriate amenities, including the District and Local Centres, or within the business and science parks they are intended to serve.

All visitor accommodation buildings should achieve and maintain high-quality standards in terms of their environmental building standard/rating (see Policies 2 to 4) as well as the facilities and services they offer their occupiers.

The Councils will take steps to ensure that apart-hotel and serviced apartment units approved for use as visitor accommodation will not be used for any other purpose. This may include the imposition of conditions to ensure minimum and maximum lengths of stay (typically 90 days) and a restriction on return visits. Extensions to the 90-day maximum length of stay for serviced apartments will only be considered on a case-by-case basis for a specific employer operating in the Area Action Plan area. This will ensure the area is able to cater for its own needs and not become a destination location for other hotel users. These will also be secured by condition or via a Section 106 agreement. If the business where to subsequently move away from the Area Action Plan area the extension would be terminated. Extended stays beyond 90 days are proposed to avoid putting additional pressure on the local housing market by discouraging the occupation of residential units by corporate lettings, for businesses operating within the Area Action Plan area.

Conversion of existing visitor accommodation to residential use

The conversion of existing visitor accommodation to residential use will be supported where the overall block or development is proposed to be changed. This will protect residential amenity and ensure effective management of the development. Applications to convert existing visitor accommodation to residential use will be subject to the housing requirements set out in Policy 13a and 13b.

The removal of residential properties from the local housing market, either as informal online rental or serviced apartments, creates imbalance and increases local rental values. It also undermines the character of the local area and community cohesion – both very important aspects of sustainable communities - by increasing the transitory nature of the community. It is important that residential units are not subsequently lost to informal rental use or used as serviced apartments on a permanent basis to maintain the supply of housing and residential amenity.

Conversion of existing residential uses to visitor accommodation

In recent years, the use of online platforms such as Airbnb to rent out either whole or parts of a residential unit as temporary accommodation for a variety of occupiers has become quite prevalent in popular tourist locations and areas close to large employment centres. Although these services provide opportunity to support good growth in cities, the widespread and concentrated prevalence of this activity involving the whole (including part use) of the residential unit has many negative effects on surrounding local residents. These include:

  • Loss of amenity space, privacy and enjoyment of their home resulting from patterns of behaviour of short-term tenants
  • Continual disruption caused by visitors moving in and out of the premises, disruptive occupants and associated servicing of the unit(s)
  • Frequent rotation of unknown, neighbouring occupiers undermines residents' sense of security of living in their own homes

In addition to those above, it also removes much needed housing from the existing local housing stock.

The Councils will only support the conversion of existing homes to visitor accommodation where impacts can be adequately addressed.

  • Net additional homes
  • Number of affordable homes delivered on-site
  • Net additional homes by district
  • Range of homes delivered
  • Number of homes delivered for local workers
  • Net additional Build to Rent dwellings
  • Proportion of Build to Rent dwellings that are affordable
  • Financial contributions secured and received towards off-site affordable housing
  • Number of custom finished homes delivered on-site
  • Number of visitor accommodation units provided on-site

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 45: Affordable housing and dwelling mix
  • Policy 50: Residential space standards
  • Policy 51: Accessible homes
  • Policy 52: Protecting garden land and the subdivision of existing dwelling plots
  • Policy 55: Responding to context
  • Policy 56: Creating successful places
  • Policy 57: Designing new buildings
  • Policy 15: Cambridge Northern Fringe East and new railway Station Area of Major Change
  • Policy 77: Development and expansion of visitor accommodation

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy E/20: Tourist Accommodation
  • Policy H/8: Housing Density
  • Policy H/9: Housing Mix
  • Policy SS/4: Cambridge Northern Fringe East and Cambridge North railway station
  • Policy HQ/2: Public Art and New Development
  • Policy SC/4: Meeting Community Needs
  • Policy SS/4: Cambridge Northern Fringe East and Cambridge North railway station
  • Policy TI/2: Planning for Sustainable Travel
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