Thursday, 4 July 2013

Hong Kong Housing Bosses Visit South Cambridgeshire

Hong Kong housing officials have been on a fact-finding mission in South Cambridgeshire to see how Council bosses deliver affordable homes for local people.

Eight visitors from Hong Kong Housing Authority – who deliver the City’s public housing programme – visited three sites in the district to learn from how South Cambridgeshire District Council secure an appropriate level, mix and size of affordable housing to meet the needs of all parts of the community.

On the tour the visitors saw different solutions to affordable housing issues from a rural exception site at Hauxton that has provided affordable homes for people with a local connection to the area, to a scheme at Trumpington Meadows where social housing is being delivered in high cost locations.

The visit also showed how 164 council houses that did not meet modern standards at The Swifts in Fulbourn have been transformed into 270 high quality homes in partnership with a housing association.

Approximately 30% of the Hong Kong population is now living in public rental housing units and the visitors to South Cambridgeshire were particularly interested in district-wide planning policies that help the Council deliver affordable homes where they are most needed.

In 2012 the District Council topped the national polls for delivering new affordable homes on rural exceptions sites and the number that will be completed this year will once again increase.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We have a fantastic track record of delivering affordable homes for local people in the district and we are pleased to welcome visitors for far and wide so we can share what we are achieving. Hong Kong and South Cambridgeshire are vastly different areas but we all share the problem of making sure we provide much needed affordable housing which we are fully committed to.”

The visit was organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) as part of a study tour to the UK from 23 June to 6 July. CIH has also arranged for the Hong Kong delegates to visit its head office in Coventry, Housing 2013 – its annual conference and exhibition – as well as Orbit, Places for People, Helena Partnerships, Cross Keys Homes, Hackney Homes, A2 Dominion and a visit to Manchester.

CIH chief executive Grainia Long, said: “CIH is proud to have members all over the world which means we can help housing professionals share their knowledge internationally. We’re pleased to be able to offer our visitors from Hong Kong the chance to learn from the achievements of South Cambridgeshire District Council and other organisations as well as to share their own experiences.”