The construction of new housing in Cambridgeshire could be given a huge boost by the election of a new mayor for the county with a large budget and strong planning powers.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid has revealed that a deal has been agreed with the city councils of Cambridge and Peterborough and the district councils covering the rest of the county to elect a mayor on May 4th.
He or she will have a £600 million budget to invest in transport, infrastructure, housing and economic development spread over 30 years. The housing part of this amounts to £170 million and it will include a ring-fenced £70 million for Cambridge.
Mr Javid said: "The people of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough came up with an ambitious devolution deal which puts them in charge of decisions that matter to them.
"This multi-million pound investment into the region is proof that we’re backing Cambridgeshire and Peterborough with the resources they need."
It means that the new mayor can co-ordinate development by linking new housing and economic developments to improvements in infrastructure. This will mean that new public remove space transport developments could be targeted at areas of growth to prevent congestion and ensure people can easily travel between their homes and places of work. This will be particularly important in an ancient city like Cambridge, where the city centre's historic layout is not conducive to the kind of modern, high-density development that might occur elsewhere.
The election will take place alongside votes for mayors in the Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester, West of England, West Midlands and Tees Valley.
In the case of Greater Manchester, more funding could be on the way for further extensive transport developments, with the Manchester Evening News claiming to have had exclusive insight into talks with the government.
The paper said this could include money for new busways and further extensions of the Metrolink tram system, including underground tunnels.
It also quoted chief executive of Manchester City Council Howard Bernstein, who was speaking at the MIPIM conference in Cannes this week, as stating that the city may need to consider supplementing the Metrolink with an underground rail system "at some point over the next decade".