Chance to build for the future

A £14m project could put Chatteris on the map as a European leader in promoting building skills, providing affordable homes and creating construction jobs.

A £14m project could put Chatteris on the map as a European leader in promoting building skills, providing affordable homes and creating construction jobs.

The pilot scheme could be in operation by next year.

SmartLIFE – a joint project between Fenland District Council and the East of England Development Agency – would provide 80 affordable new homes for the town and set up training programmes to tackle the construction industry's skills shortage.

If successful, the project could provide education, internet and teleworking facilities and promote energy-saving measures, self-build, technical, project management and finance skills.


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The project, which would involve houses being made off-site and delivered for self-build, would be developed in Chatteris and the benefits rolled out to the rest of Cambridgeshire and eventually the UK and even Europe-wide.

It is expected to help the construction industry, which is struggling to cope with Government demands for 47,500 new homes in Cambridgeshire by 2016.

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"Chatteris could lead the way in new construction," said Cambridgeshire County Council partnership manager Jemma Little.

"It would enable people to train on the job and increase the ability of the construction industry to build affordable, sustainable homes.

"We are excited about it. Chatteris could become a focal point for training and disseminating best practice, not just locally but across Europe.

"Chatteris could be seen as leading the way in skilling up people.

"Those who are finding it difficult to get work locally could retrain and it would bring construction " she said.

"We need a good workforce and we want to lead the way in new skills."

SmartLIFE, billed as an innovative regeneration project, is bidding for £8m from the Government under the Infrastructure Growth Area Delivery Grant and a decision is expected by the end of July.

If successful, it hopes to top up the project with a further grant from the European Union in September, making a total of £14m for the scheme.

Work would begin on the project next year and the initial government funding would span three years.

The SmartLIFE bid forms part of a £96.76m package covering the whole Cambridge sub-region which includes a range of projects throughout the district.

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