Council claws back affordable homes after costly blunder

Work has just begun at the Norfolk Homes Ltd development off Cley Road, Holt. Picture: KATE WOLSTENH

Work at the Norfolk Homes Ltd development off Cley Road, Holt. - Credit: KATE WOLSTENHOLME

Affordable homes will be built on a north Norfolk site, despite a council blunder that cost the taxpayer thousands and meant the developer was not required to build any.  

In 2012, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) permitted Norfolk Homes to build 85 homes off Cley Road in Holt, including 45pc affordable housing.  

However, when the developer applied for changes to the site, NNDC failed to include any affordable homes or developer contribution, known as Section 106 money.  

When the council argued that the 2012 S106 agreement still applied to the new applications, Sheringham-based Norfolk Homes took the council to court, winning in the High Court in 2020.   

North Norfolk District Council is doing an IT upgrade, meaning its local search departmet is closed

North Norfolk District Council has approved changes to a Holt development that will allow for 12 affordable homes - Credit: Archant

At a meeting on Thursday, the planning committee was offered the chance to claw back 12 affordable homes as part of an application to change the proposed housing types and layout.  

James Nicholls, commercial director at Norfolk Homes, said they were offering a “compromise”.   

He said: “In the event that this application is not approved by members this morning we will simply have to build out the extant consent.  

“This is not a threat; it is simply to safeguard the future of our company and employees.”  

James Nicholls, commerical director at Norfolk Homes Ltd. Photo: Norfolk Homes Ltd/Richard Drury

James Nicholls, commerical director at Norfolk Homes Ltd. Photo: Norfolk Homes Ltd/Richard Drury - Credit: Archant

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Council officer Phillip Rowson said members would no doubt be disappointed by the loss of affordable homes, but they must look at the matter as was before them and the benefits it could bring.  

Holt councillor, Georgie Perry-Warnes, said she supported the application but said: “The people of Holt need affordable homes more than they need market houses and the loss of up to 25 affordable homes caused a huge amount of despair and upset.  

“It is a shame that the result of the legal disagreement is that those most in need have lost out.  

“In my opinion, the developers have increased profits at their expense.”  

Councillor Georgie Perry-Warnes. Picture: NNDC

Councillor Georgie Perry-Warnes. Picture: NNDC

Paul Heinrich, councillor, said this was an opportunity to bring the saga to an end, adding: “We are at least getting some social housing here, not enough I accept.   

“It’s a compromise, either we get these houses or we get none.”  

The planning committee voted unanimously to approve the plans, with three councillors saying they did so with “a heavy heart”.   

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