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North Norfolk confronts housing crisis

PUBLISHED: 08:40 25 May 2008 | UPDATED: 12:44 20 May 2010

Hundreds more homes need to be built in North Norfolk each year to ease housing problems in the area.

Idyllic towns and villages in the area continue to be a Mecca for those with time and money to buy retirement and second homes.

Hundreds more homes need to be built in North Norfolk each year to ease housing problems in the area.

Idyllic towns and villages in the area continue to be a Mecca for those with time and money to buy retirement and second homes.

But for local people looking for their first home, or facing being homeless, North Norfolk's popularity continues to add to their problems.

Officials on the local council are doing what they can to help the homeless, and provide a flow of affordable housing - but admit they are facing an uphill battle.

The best hope for easing the situation is building the 8,000 new homes planned for the patch in regional plans, says a leading councillor.

But Clive Stockton, the North Norfolk District Council cabinet member responsible for housing, says putting new estates in the housing pressure points, such as Cromer and Sheringham, will bring its own battles on the planning front.

Possible housing areas highlighted in emerging new planning policies had already drawn complaints from people against using greenfield sites around the towns.

Mr Stockton said: “We need hundreds more homes, and they have to go somewhere.”

General housing problems were acute in the area because of high number of second and retirement homes, amounting to 10pc of the housing stock, says a report to councillors.

It was compounded by low wages, meaning the average person could only generate a mortgage of £70,000 in an area where the average flat price was double that figure, and average house cost £211,000.

A housing need survey showed that to meet demand 921 homes need to be built each year for five years - but the council's target was just 100, hampered partly by planning constraints.

It was a battle to get the number of affordable homes needed, said Mr Stockton, but if an expected 30pc of the 8,000 new homes were affordable it would double the current figure to 200 - while possible housing schemes at the former West Raynham and Coltishall airbases could add even more.

There are currently 3697 on the housing waiting list, a figure which has rocketed from 777 a decade ago.

More than a dozen people turn up at the council each month saying they are homeless, as a result of a variety of reasons, ranging from rent arrears and relationship break-ups to domestic violence and parents asking grown-up children to leave due to family tensions - a situation growing due to sons and daughters staying at home longer because they cannot afford to get on the housing ladder, said NNDC strategic housing manager Karen Hill.

The council was also improving its response to people with housing problems, with earlier interviews to identify issues before they became a homelessness crisis, she added.

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