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20 new council houses planned for Norwich

17 Feb 14  | Engineering

Construction commences today on the first new council houses to be built in Norwich for more than 20 years.

City council leaders and local MP's have also revealed are looking to spend and additional £13.2m on almost 150 further homes.

When the building of eight flats in Catton Grove starts in a few months, it will mark the first time new council homes have been built in the city since 1992.

The council is spending £700,000 on the one-bedroom flats in Pointer’s Field, near Sleaford Green. It aims to have them finished and ready to let to people on the city’s social housing waiting list by May.

A further four, two-bedroom properties will be available to buy on a shared ownership basis through Orwell Housing Association, which is working in partnership with the city council to deliver the scheme.

A new concept known as ‘self-build’ is being piloted in Norwich for the first time in the building of the shared ownership homes – with the houses built to 90pc completion.

The buyer is then given a range of options for finishing the build themselves or buying in building services from the main contractor.

The city council has committed to building 250 new homes over the next five years and council leader Brenda Arthur said today was an “historic occasion”, which she hoped would be “the first of many much needed, affordable council-owned homes for the city”.

And the council’s controlling Labour cabinet has also agreed to spending which will see a start to the long-awaited work on the Three Score site.

The Three Score site is the last remaining piece of land in Bowthorpe not yet developed under a plan forged for the area in the 1970s.

The 79-acre site will eventually include 1,000 homes, a care home and community facilities. The spine road through the estate has been mapped out, while this week will see work to cut back trees before the bird nesting season begins.

The council’s cabinet recently met behind closed doors to agree to make £13.2m available to design and build the first of the homes at Three Score.

Gwyn Jones, city growth and development manager at the city council, said the first 140 units would be in the north-east corner of the site and would be for a mix of private homes for sale and rent, plus social housing.

She said planning applications would have to be lodged and a construction company appointed to build the homes, but, if it goes ahead, work is likely to start in summer next year and take two years.

As per a partnership agreement with the Homes and Communities Agency, which has provided money to kick-start the Three Score scheme, proceeds from future development of the site will be pumped back into regeneration and housing schemes in Norwich.

Cash generated from the first phase of homes, next to the housing with care scheme which Norsecare intends to start work on in the summer, will be used to recoup the cost of building the road and drainage, including two lagoons, which the site needs.

Mrs Arthur said: “This is an exciting moment, not only for the development at Three Score, but also for the council as a service provider.

“By looking to take on a business model for this development, we hope to create a robust and sustainable means of delivering and funding homes for Norwich well into the future.

“It is also another way in which we can manage our money wisely to reduce the effects of funding cuts on our frontline services.”

Steve Collins, head of area for the HCA, said: “We fully support this move by the council to use remaining funds for the partnership to deliver infrastructure, which will unlock this development site, and their plans to provide private sale and affordable housing directly to the market.”

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