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Backing for bid to build homes

PUBLISHED: 12:30 07 October 2010

Help for the hundreds of people on north Norfolk’s housing list took a step forward this week when influential councillors backed an “ambitious and aspirational” document.

North Norfolk District Council’s cabinet hopes the Local Investment Plan will result in government cash to help develop plots in North Walsham which have been dormant since the property slump, revitalise schemes such as the major redevelopment of the town’s former HL Foods site, and allow homes to be built in dozens of villages.

The plan will now be used as the basis of talks with the government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

While detailing scores of projects across the district which would benefit from government cash, the plan focuses on North Walsham, the largest town in north Norfolk, where a number of eyesore sites awaiting development have been a long-standing cause of public concern.

Steve Blatch, strategic director with the council, said the national economic situation meant that no-one could tell at present how much funding might be available.

But he added: “Delivery of all or some of these projects would make a significant difference to housing in the district.

There are 2,950 people waiting for affordable homes throughout north Norfolk and a 2007 survey revealed that an extra 921 homes would be needed every year to meet demand. But between 2005-2010 only 337 have been provided.

Cash could enable housing associations to buy sites in North Walsham such as the former Hall Lane Garage; Mace’s Yard, Cromer Road; Howard’s Coachworks, Mundesley Road, and 48/50 Bacton Road, which could all be developed with 100pc affordable homes.

The council also hopes that by packaging together schemes for small numbers of homes on many rural exception sites - outside a village’s development boundary - they could make efficiency savings.

Peter Moore, who represents North Walsham, welcomed the plan, which includes a bid to galvanise redevelopment - with 400 homes, employment opportunities and a new station car park - of the area around the old HL canning factory, off the Norwich Road, by using public funding to provide infrastructure, such as an access road.

Since the council was formed, in 1974, the town’s population had quadrupled to 12,000 but its infrastructure had not kept pace, said Mr Moore.

The site was North Walsham’s best hope for attracting industry because lorries visiting it would not have to negotiate either of the town’s low railway bridges.

The HCA is expected to make a decision on funding in February or March and building work could begin in June.


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