Town Planning Review

Assessing the need for key-worker housing: A case study of Cambridge

Town Planning Review (2003), 74, (3), 281–300.

Abstract

In growing recognition of the affordability problems in high-cost locations in England, particularly for those working in the public sector, the Government has advised local planning authorities to assess locally the housing needs of key workers and make provision for them. However, little guidance exists with regard to defining key workers and key-worker housing or how to undertake a local assessment of housing needs for this particular section of the community. The purpose of this paper is to help inform this debate through the use of a case study that focused on the nature and extent of the key-worker problem in Cambridge. Drawing together evidence from published statistics on the affordability problems that exist in the city as well as extensive surveys with employers and employees in the area, the paper suggests that there is a case to include policies for key-worker housing in the Cambridge Local Plan. It also suggests adopting a broad definition of key workers to allow planners the freedom to tackle the problems locally. Finally, it suggests that to meet key-worker aspirations, key-worker housing should be defined broadly to include not just subsidised rented housing, but also shared ownership, discounted market ownership and fixed equity tenure.

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Morrison, Nicola