An equal partnership between Cambridge City Council and The Hill Group

Published: 11 January 2024

“If I could have moved in there and then, I would have…”

Elaine Downes, 44, had been living in her one-bedroom apartment at Hanover Court in Cambridge for five years. With an established community and her sister living close by, she was slightly apprehensive when the city council housing team approached residents regarding proposals to redevelop the apartments, along with neighbouring Princess Court.

Elaine shares her story. “I had been living with my two cats in a one-bedroom apartment on the ground floor and before that in one room in a hostel in the city, so I was grateful to have my own home and friendly neighbours around me. When the council initially contacted us to attend an open day about proposals for the redevelopment, I thought it was important to hear what they had to say, as I was concerned that I may have had to move further away.

“Over the next few months, we were given lots of information and support and then had the opportunity to visit the new development, Ironworks. As soon as I walked into one of the apartments, I was completely overwhelmed and immediately fell in love with it. If I could have moved in there and then…I would have!

“I put my name down straight away to move to Ironworks. Going back to my flat that evening made me realise how jaded it was. The council team took the time to make sure the flat allocated to me was adapted to fit my needs due to my health issues. I moved into my ground-floor one-bedroom apartment with a wet room in July 2022 and have never been happier.”

Ironworks on Mill Road, Cambridge, is Cambridge Investment Partnership’s flagship development. It features 236 studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments, and two-, three- and four-bedroom homes on the former Mill Road depot site, with half of the homes for private sale and half as council-rented homes. There is also a highly sustainable community centre, commercial spaces, and almost 30% public open space, including new parks.

“Since moving, I have noticed a considerable improvement in my asthma from the improved air quality through the mechanical heat recovery system, which is in all apartments. The air is recycled twice a day; it's really important to me as I have long covid and if I was still living at the old flat, I wouldn’t be feeling as well as I am. “I feel more secure too. It is a lot cheaper to heat and the flat stays really warm. The winter garden is a lovely addition, letting lots of light in. I am able to sit outside and enjoy what’s going on. There is also no noise when you shut the windows, or draft. I feel grateful to be here; it's just perfect, I have my own slice of heaven.”

Elaine continues, “I have been fortunate that I know most of the people in my block, as they have moved from Hanover or Princess Court. I’m quite a shy person, but I have been getting out and volunteering at the community centre every week, and I also help at a toddler group in Petersfield. It’s nice meeting new people and making new friends; this new apartment has certainly changed my life, both in lifting my mood and having somewhere healthier to live.

“Being told that your existing house is going to be redeveloped is somewhat daunting, but I couldn’t praise the team enough for all the work they put in to make sure I was settled and able to move to my new home as quickly as I could. I would recommend listening and being open-minded about the options, as it's really worked out well for me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for all the help they have given me.”