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In Conversation with Council Leader, Bridget Smith, about the South Cambridgeshire Investment Partnership (SCIP)

30 September 2021

Cllr Bridget Smith

Back in 2018, we quickly realised that we wanted to bring forward more homes that are genuinely affordable to live in. It became a Business Plan priority for the Council, and it still is. So, we looked at how other great councils have successfully delivered high quality, sustainable and affordable housing and sought to build on their best practice.

The partnership model clearly stood out as one way we felt we could deliver on our objectives, and I really liked that fact that the risks and benefits are equally shared. This partnership is a 50:50 joint venture, so we can work closely with Hill throughout the entire process and we each bring a different set of skills and experience to the table.



The beauty of this partnership is that we take part in the design and delivery of sites which gives us a unique level of control and allows us to put the community and quality of life indicators at the heart of the process. The partnership does not work from a top-down approach; we are learning at every step of the way but are keen to listen to suggestions and viewpoints from local people wherever possible.

My key test, as to whether a development will be successful, is if I would let my 90-year-old mother live there. We need to be proud of what we are creating, and they must be places we would be happy for our friends and family to live in.


Healthy homes – for the planet as well as the mind

As a Council we often talk about being Green to the Core, and we have certainly brought this mentality to our work with SCIP. In the partnership we are focussing on building houses to high sustainable standards which are not only built using sustainable materials, but also allow people to live in a sustainable way – such as not having to use a car, and if you do, being able to charge your electric one.  

The last 18 months have changed the landscape and today we use our homes in completely different ways. Now more than ever, your home can determine your physical and mental health through its lack of space and light. As a result, we are looking to be proactive in acknowledging this and amending the designs and architectural spaces to reflect that our homes are now often our workspaces too.


Looking ahead

SCIP has recently purchased a site for development on the Cambourne Business Park. I’ve been a Councillor for 15 years and I’ve long wanted to reinvigorate this site. It’s an area very close to our hearts, and this site has sat un-used for many years. It marks a real opportunity to build on the success of Cambourne, which is now really established and packed full of fantastic amenities and brilliant schools.

We really want to push the boundaries here on quality and sustainability and also provide a good mix of affordability. And when I say affordability, these are not just affordable homes, but homes which actually seek to reduce the financial burden on the owner. So, for example, ensuring their bills are lower due to the materials and infrastructure in the homes, or being near cycle and foot paths to ensure people can easily travel without paying for it.

I’m really excited to see the final plans for this development come together in the next few weeks and I look forward to continuing to work successfully with Hill on future schemes. Together we can deliver the homes which South Cambridgeshire both needs and deserves.