I didn’t tell my son we had a new council home until we got the keys

Joanna Elliott and her 10 year old son, Sam had been living in private rented accommodation in Cambridge for the past six and a half years until her landlord served her notice to quit last October. With a dog and cat as part of the family, this left her with very little options for a new place to go to.

Jo explains,

“We had been living in a three bedroom buy to let property for several years and after my daughter, Ellie (21) moved out, I was finding that all my money was going on rent and bills with nothing left each month. When my landlord served us notice, I soon realised that there was a dramatic change in rental prices between 2013 and 2019 and there was very little that I could afford.

“The option of council temporary accommodation also didn’t work as I was unable to take our pets so I went on the housing register for a council home. A friend who lives on the same street as Wulstan Way offered to take the four of us in until we could get something sorted which was really kind of her so Sam and I shared the same room or I would sleep on the sofa.

“With the outbreak of Covid-19, my job working for the NHS in the pharmacy at a GP practice meant I worked more than my 30 hour week while Sam went to key workers school. I also tried to bid for houses whenever I was able to.

“Sam and I became really settled in the area and started to make some good friends. It was also strange as I grew up two streets away from my friend’s house and went to the local school, which Sam now goes to.

“On a dog walk one day, we saw that Cambridge Investment Partnership were building a small development of new council homes on the same road as my friend so I was really keen to find out more. I stayed up until midnight, waiting for the new homes to come on the list and put my bid in. I couldn’t quite believe it when we were successful and I just burst into tears.

“It was such an exciting time but I was worried about telling my son about the new home until I actually had the keys, as he had been through so much upheaval, so on the day I got the keys I arranged for my friend to walk the dog with him and I would be in the new house.

“Sam knocked on the door and I answered and just said – do you want to come into your new home?! He couldn’t quite believe it and was speechless. It’s so lovely to see him settled and happy – we have a new base and can make a fresh start.”

Wulfstan Way features two brand new two bedroom council homes and one, three bedroom council home, all with off street parking. Located in the Queen Edith’s Ward of the city, it has been built by Cambridge Investment Partnership, the equal partnership between Cambridge City Council and Hill Investment Partnership. It is one of the first partnerships to be formed to deliver brand new council homes.

Jo continues,

“It’s so lovely to have our own home. The size of the rooms are fantastic and it feels really open and light. I love the patio doors which open out onto the garden and it’s also wonderful having a downstairs toilet.

“The kitchen diner is just perfect for our lifestyle and everything is finished to a really lovely standard, with attention to detail throughout, such as an outside light, washing line and some plants in the garden. Everything has been thought of and everyone who has visited has commented on how many plug sockets there are.

“We are so fortunate to have been able to get this new home, it’s the standard of something I would buy myself. Sam and I are really happy.”

The homes at Wulfstan Way include a number of sustainable features including photovoltaic solar panels, reduced water consumption and a reduction in carbon emissions.