A new house-building era

06/11/2012  
New council homes are set to be built in Norwich for more than 20 years.
 
The landmark move comes as the council’s cabinet prepares to agree a new investment strategy for new affordable homes and approve two schemes that will bring 54 new council homes to the city.
 
Working in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the council is looking to develop land at Bowthorpe for up to 1,000 new properties.
 
The intention is that the first phase of around 180 homes would include 47 council-owned, as well as eight shared equity, homes – with an initial purchase price of 75 per cent.
 
A further seven council and four self-build homes are being proposed for land at the end of Pointers Field.
 
With low levels of house-building, and a growing need for homes, including those at affordable rents, a boost of this kind to the city would be very welcome news.
 
Councillor Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, says: “We know in order to keep Norwich a prosperous and vibrant city, it is essential we do all that we can to meet local need for jobs and homes.
 
“That we are on the brink of such a radical change, entering an era where it is again going to be possible for us to provide good quality homes families are in desperate need of, is very exciting indeed.
 
We will ensure that as well as the homes being of excellent build quality, they will have eco-features, meaning they will be economical to run.”
 
The potential to build new council homes has been made possible since the previous housing subsidy funding system – felt by many councils to be unfair – has been replaced with one under which, rather than paying rent income over to the government, we can invest this money locally for the benefit of current and future council tenants.
 
This money, along with prudent borrowing and investment brought by the Norwich City Council and HCA strategic partnership means the council can plan to build up to 300 new council homes in a decade, and even more beyond.
 
Building these homes will also provide a much needed boost to the jobs market as the partnership continues to meet its commitment to meeting local need for jobs. Part of the way it does this is through its Building Futures in Norwich project, set up by the partnership and run by Construction Training Specialists Ltd. Through Building Futures, homes will be built with a contractor workforce made up of at least 10 per cent of people new to the labour market – either young people or those who have been unemployed.
 
Akin Durowoju, from the HCA with responsibility for the Norwich partnership says: “Our long-term partnership with Norwich council means we’re able to reach agreement on what’s best for the city up-front and speed up the process of delivering homes and jobs for local residents.
 
As well as investing in the future of Norwich, we’ve also been supporting the council by offering expert advice on the development of Bowthorpe and look forward to seeing work start on the first high-quality homes there.”
 
Norwich City Council’s cabinet will make a decision on whether to adopt the proposed new investment strategy and give the go-ahead for building new homes in Bowthorpe and next to Pointers Field at its meeting, next week (Wednesday 14 November). You can find the reports for this meeting here.
 
 
Background information
 
  • In 2009, Norwich City Council became the first council in the country to enter into a strategic partnership with the HCA. The HCA invested £8 million into Norwich and the city council invested a number of sites for new homes around the city, which are being jointly developed.
  • Some of the projects already funded by this have included the refurbished war memorial and gardens, a new skate park, the building of 108 new high quality affordable housing association owned homes and work to fit council tenants’ homes with energy-saving improvements.
 

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