Affordable homes boost for north Norfolk

Lorraine and Tony Farrow at their home in Kings Close, North Walsham.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Lorraine and Tony Farrow at their home in Kings Close, North Walsham.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Record numbers of affordable homes have been built in north Norfolk but demand is still outstripping supply.

Between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, 153 properties were constructed for North Norfolk District Council by housing associations in parishes including North Walsham, Sheringham, Northrepps, Honing and Hoveton. The majority were built by Victory Housing Trust.

During the same period in 2012-13 the authority was involved in the building of 18 affordable homes.

John Archibald, chief executive of North Walsham-based Victory Housing Trust, said north Norfolk villages had a role to play in providing more homes which would help communities 'thrive' and create jobs.

The not-for-profit charity, which has more than 5,000 properties, will be investing £11.9m in improving its stock and £9.7m for new homes in 2014-15.

It plans to build 1,000 new homes by 2023.

Mr Archibald said: 'Affordable housing is crucial for people on the housing register and for the overall economy. If villages don't grow, they die. I am not advocating concreting over green fields. Every north Norfolk village could take five homes.'

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There are currently 2,200 households on the council's housing register, with 344 of them priority cases.

Mr Archibald added challenges facing the trust were getting funding, planning permission and finding sites but the trust was 'on track' for hitting its 1,000 homes target, partly by selling an average of 30 old properties a year.

'Demand far outstrips supply. We are trying to crank up supply. It takes time,' Mr Archibald said.

Rhodri Oliver, deputy leader of the council, said the boost in affordable homes was because the authority was working with developers in a more 'practical and flexible way' on a 'case by case basis.'

Mr Oliver and Rik Martin, operations manager of the Norfolk Rural Community Council, believed affordable homes provided properties for people who would otherwise be priced out of the market and allowed for younger people to care for older residents.

The council is hoping to boost the work of its enforcement board, set up in December 2012, which has brought 62 previously long-term empty properties back into use.

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