Concerns over affordable housing in coastal Norfolk village

The site of the proposed homes. Picture: MAURICE GRAY

The site of the proposed homes. Picture: MAURICE GRAY - Credit: Archant

Community correspondent MAURICE GRAY reports on affordable housing plans in Walcott on the north Norfolk coast.

A map of the proposed development. Picture: PLANNING DOCUMENTS

A map of the proposed development. Picture: PLANNING DOCUMENTS - Credit: Archant

Controversy reigns over a coastal village due to conflicting interests about affordable housing in Walcott.

Last year, proposals had been made regarding three plots of farmland, on the outskirts of the village, being offered and possibly used for the purpose of building ten properties under the 'Community Led Housing and for rent plus a shared ownership, all at sub-market rates.

The North Norfolk District Council held a forum at the Walcott Village Hall handing out lots of literature illustrating the possibilities of offering low price properties to meet local housing needs, which has caused concerns by members of the community.

The plots of land have been offered for consideration by a local 'landowner'.

'Yes, we do need more housing but in the right place', said local residents.

'What about all the empty properties that were purchased cheaply and not used, holiday homes or forgotten', stated another resident.

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One plot (see map plot No 1), which runs parallel with coastline village and the 'original

'Council houses' along the opposite side has been earmarked as the best option to build the proposed properties on, obviously at a reasonable price, but there are many hurdles to overcome on this particular plot.

The North Norfolk District Council goes on to mention, in leaflets, 'planning policy allows some affordable homes to be built in the countryside if, homes meet a proven need, are affordable for the life of the property and other planning requirements are met, allowing

good access and design etc.', not in a flood zone.

The council goes on to state, in their brochures, 'Typical developments of around 10 homes to let using local settings with connections to parish and adjoining parishes, requiring a willing landowner selling relatively cheap land making affordable homes possible, but may

still need cross subsidy from limited number of market properties'.

Everything sounded great and triggered some enthusiasm among the Walcott community, a cosy village of approximately 500 residents, especially after having a good news 'taster' that, at last, a car park has been granted which will ease the pressure of traffic parking vehicles on the sea front, branded 'a disaster waiting to happen', particularly during the summer season. However, it appears that there is now an issue as to which parish council is responsible, Walcott and/or Bacton.

The excitement and enthusiasm soon dampened after more considerations about building homes on fields that would have no footpaths, dangerous winding roads on which farm vehicles and agricultural equipment, including tractors using the roads, most days and no

nearby shops etc.

On the current preferred site, the new properties would be overlooking the houses on either side to intrude on neighbour's privacy and vice versa.

The majority of Walcott residents have backed the idea of affordable housing in the area, but have suggested they be built in a suitable area, there are many questions being put to the North Norfolk District Council with the hope of reasonable answers.

We have contacted the north Norfolk District Council on numerous occasions, and left messages, since November 2018, but only once a media and campaigns officer answered and said he would get back with a statement. We have now received the following from the

A North Norfolk District Council spokesman stated: 'A public consultation was held last year in Walcott and there was support for the principal of affordable homes for local people.

'A potential site has been identified. A range of issues is being considered, including the location of the site and local house values to assess whether the site is viable and if development can be progressed.'