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My Norwich

100 facts about Norwich council housing

play area outside council houses

1. The first council house built in Norwich was on Angel Road in October 1920.

2. Mile Cross was the first major housing estate built by the council. Norwich City Council employed well-known town planner Stanley Adshead, a former Professor of Civic Design at the University of Liverpool to create the plan of Mile Cross.

3. Before City Hall was built, the Council City Estates Department was responsible for housing; this was located on Gentleman’s Walk.

4. In 1923 labour and material shortages eased, meaning construction picked up and land in Lakenham was purchased for a new scheme.

5. In 1935-1936, the city’s first tenement blocks were built in Barrack Street and Union Street.

6. In the 1930s the three storey flats on Barrack Street were constructed.

7. In 1945, the City of Norwich Plan was formed, proposing plans for future housing within the city.

8. In 1946, the city built 150 British Iron and Steel Federation (BISF) houses, mainly in West Earlham and Tuckswood. 

9. Many of the estates around the 1950s were influenced by Ebenezer Howard and The Garden City Movement at the end of the 19th century; it is for this reason that many council properties built at this time have large gardens.

10. By 1950, Norwich City Council had built 1,469 permanent new homes. Some of these were state-of-the-art such as the Ministry of Fuel and Power-sponsored homes in West Earlham which were specially insulated and enjoyed ‘whole-house’ (or central) heating.

11. In order to meet the huge and urgent post-war need for replacement housing, 350 ‘prefabs’ were built in the city between 1945 and 1950. These were expected to serve ten years, however the last surviving prefab home was removed in 1976.

12. In 1954 when post-war restrictions on building had finally ended, the city began construction of the Heartsease Estate.

13. In 1955 architect David Percival was appointed. His aim was, “not only to reflect the regional architectural tradition in housing schemes but to give individual character to each site”.

14.  In 1959 Norwich won the ‘Good Design in Housing’ award from the Ministry of Housing and local government, for the building of Alderson Place in Finkelgate.

15. Philadelphia Lane was redeveloped in the late 50’s and early 60’s which lead to the division of the road into two new roads; Penn Grove and Sleaford Green.

16.  In 1974 construction began on Bowthorpe, incorporating a mixture of private, social and sheltered housing.

17. By the 1970s, Norwich had the highest proportion of council housing of any city in the country.

18. The Pottergate/Cow Hill scheme of thirteen flats grouped around a central green was designed by Tony Whitwood of the City Architects’ Department and completed in 1970.

in the garden of a bungalow

19.  In the first two years of Right to Buy, 1,000 tenants bought their homes from Norwich City Council.

20.  By 1939 Norwich City Council had built around 7,600 homes in the city (while private enterprise supplied just 3228 built). Of these, around 44 per cent were built to rehouse those displaced by slum clearance.

21. Norwich City Council own eight tower blocks which were all built in the 1960’s.

22. The city council currently manages 26 sheltered housing schemes across the city, providing around 1,000 homes for older people.

23. The Norwich Standard was introduced in 2012 and was implemented to deliver a higher standard of works than the Decent Homes Standard, which the government requires. As of 2019, 99% of homes have achieved the Norwich Standard.

24. In 1932 The Lord Mayor, Alderman and citizens of Norwich borrowed from the Ministry of Health a total of £83,803 “for the provision of working class dwellings on the Catton Grove Estate and purposes connected therewith”. By 1935, most of the houses on Catton Grove were complete.

25. The regulations for the Conduct of the Housing Estate 1933 stated that tenants pay nine shillings and four pence weekly rent.

26. In 1930 there were around 2,300 eligible people on the housing waiting list.

27. The city council currently has over 14,500 properties making it the biggest local authority landlord with housing in England (2018), excluding metropolitan districts, unitary authorities and London boroughs.

28. 49% of city council's homes are one and two bedroom flats and 42% are houses (majority three bedroom). The remainder are maisonettes and bungalows.

29. The tenant and leaseholder magazine has been published for many years and in 2002, following a competition, it was renamed to ‘Tenant Talk’ and then in 2010 it became ‘TLC’. The magazine is currently published three times a year.

30. Home Options, the way to register for social housing in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk was launched in November 2007.

31. In 1957 a survey of waiting list applicants showed 60% were willing to live in central area flats.

32. Ladbrooke Place and St Leonards Road were designed by Taylor and Green, who are known for their council housing schemes in rural South Norfolk.

33. Houses along St Leonards Road and Ladbrooke Place were built using 16 different types of brick and flint, cobble and colour wash.

34. The average household size in 1971 for the city of Norwich was 2.61.

35. In 1978, 43.2% of Norwich City Council’s four bed houses were in North Earlham and 48.4% of five bedroom houses were in North Earlham.

36. In December 1978 a face-to-face survey of tenants in the Larkman Estate was carried out to determine the attitudes towards the possibility of a new community centre for the area. The results showed a general consensus that this would be a welcomed feature.

37.  North Earlham estate was the first pre-war estate to benefit from the concrete front garden paths and common passageways programme, organised in 1978.

38.  There is still a surviving Anderson Shelter in Mile Cross near Margaret Paston Avenue.

39. In 1958 Norwich City Council decided to move their entire labour force to a brand new and centralised depot named The “Norwich City Works Department”. The new depot was to be located Just off Mile Cross Road and was officially opened in 1965.

40. The 25th Scouts’ base of operations – located in Mile Cross for the last 70 years, due to their previous base of operations being bombed in 1942, along with all their equipment. In 1948 the scout group managed to purchase on old wooden army hut in Mile Cross and raised money to fix this up as their new base.

41. Streets were named after WW2 Victoria Cross winners Randle (Green) Bates (Green).

42. Bullard Road was named after a larger-than-life character who was Sheriff, Mayor and MP for Norwich. Sir Harry Bullard was born into the family that established Anchor Brewery in 1811. He is remembered for his efforts to help those affected when the Wensum overflowed its banks and flooded much of Heigham, where he set up a relief fund with his own money.

43.  The Royal Norfolk Regiment is commemorated in the street names of Marl Pit estate. Britannia Court is named after the regimental emblem and the street names are named after Victoria Cross recipients from the regiment.

44. Billy Bluelight, known for racing steam pleasure boats on the 20-mile stretch alongside the rivers Wensum and Yare, lived at Palmer Road.

45. The Heartsease estate is built upon RAF Mousehold Heath, a World War One airfield used by the Royal Flying Corps. However by WW2 it had fallen into disuse.

46. A plaque on the council’s Freeman Square flats commemorates the nearby site where the crew of ‘The Lady Jane’, a Liberator bomber got into difficulty on 24 November 1944 and clipped the top of the old St Philips Church. The pilot brought the plane down on one of the few areas without houses – the corporation yard – and it exploded in a ball of fire. 

47. In 1549, Robert Kett briefly camped on the site of the Bowthorpe estate at the beginning of the rebellion that was to bear his name. On 10 July 1549, the Sheriff of Norfolk, Sir Edward Wyndham, was nearly pulled from his house by the rebels in the village as he tried to persuade them to disband. Kett quickly decided that Bowthorpe was too exposed for a rebel camp, and moved on to Mousehold Heath.

48. Heathgate was built on the site of the old Horse Barracks first built in 1791 on the site of Hassett House and later known as the Cavalry Barracks and Nelson Barracks. The barracks, which accommodated 320 men and 266 horses, was demolished in 1963 and Heathgate built on the site. Street names Cavalry Ride and Hassett Close commemorate the area’s history. 

49. Jenny Lind Park, now on Vauxhall Street is the last vestige of the Jenny Lind Infirmary for Children Foundation. By 1972 the area had become depopulated and it was decided to give the Pottergate site over to new housing and form a new playground off Vauxhall Street and Union Street.

50. Wilberforce Road is named for abolitionist William Wilberforce, who visited nearby Earlham Hall as a guest of the Gurney banking family.

51. An unusual feature of Coslany Street used to be the iron kerbs that ran along either side. For many years, about an acre of land on the east of this narrow street was occupied by Barnard's foundry. These were laid to protect the edges of the pavements from the excessive wear and tear, which might otherwise have been caused by heavy iron-tyred horse-drawn vehicles entering and leaving the premises. The whole site was eventually cleared for the council’s Barnards Yard development.

52. The George Pope Road, Palmer Road and Bullard Road area was known as ‘The Klondike’ by locals, apparently because during construction there were big piles of sand all over the area that looked like gold.

53. The council’s development at St Martins Close now occupies the former site of Sun Yard and Greenland Fishery Yard, whose houses were declared unfit very early in the city's programme of slum clearance.

54. Champion boxer Ginger Sadd lived on Bullard Road. Ginger beat many of the top boxers of his era but only had one attempt at a British title when he fought Jock McAvoy over 15 rounds in May 1939, losing narrowly on points.

55. The council’s Magdalen Close development was built on the site of a small square of Tudor buildings at the back of the White Lion pub. However, in 1934 it was demolished and classic 1930s council flats were subsequently built on this and the adjoining area.

56. In the 1990s, tenants of the Pilling Park estate were temporarily decanted to wooden chalets by the park, whilst their permanent homes were being underpinned. These proved to be very popular with the tenants.

57. Robert Kett and his rebels found Thorpe Hamlet an ideal site for the so called "King's Great Camp" in 1549. Hence the name 'Kett's Hill' and 'Camp Grove'. Kett used the ruins of St. Michael's Chapel on the ridge as his headquarters and also St. Leonard's Priory close at the top of Gas Hill, where the council’s St Leonards Road development now stands. 

58. To build the Catton Grove estate, the council had to complete a compulsory purchase of land that had been let as allotments to the local asylum since 1905 on the provision that no work was done on a Sunday.

59. Aylsham Road wasn’t always called this, the name came with the creation of the Estate in the 1920’s, and before that it was better known as ‘Upper Hellesdon Road’.

60. Hansard Road was named after Luke Hansard ( Hansard the Printer). He left Norwich to make his name in London with only a guinea to his name and landed a job with John Hughes the official printer to the House of Commons. By 1800 he was running the business by himself. His family name was given to the “Hansard”, which is the traditional name for the official report of all parliamentary debates to this day.

61. A number of our latest homes at Hansard Close, Rayne Park and Goldsmith Street are built to ‘Passivhaus standards’. These are highly eco-efficient designs, which reduce fuel costs by up to 70%.

62. In 2002, a new Tenants CityWide Board was formed of council tenant representatives from all areas of the city and members from the Sheltered Housing Tenants Forum and the Leaseholders Forum.

63. There are currently eight members on the Tenant Involvement Panel and six members on the Sheltered Housing Panel.

64. There is a New Build group where seven tenant representatives provide feedback on the design of new homes and the materials used in them.

65.  The ability for tenants to report repairs online was introduced in 2015 and now around 25% of non-urgent repairs are reported online.

66.  The current tenancy agreement was introduced in 2010. In the tenancy handbook provided in the 1960’s, tenants were advised on suitable sizes for sheds and how to grow their own vegetables.

67. Most tenants have a secure tenancy, which offers the best level of protection, reassurance and rights compared to other rented properties.

68. In the past year, over 37,000 repairs have been completed. The most frequently reported repair is for sockets, light fittings and wiring.

69.  Additional services for Norwich council housing residents include a budgeting and money advice service. This is a free service for our tenants, consisting of a specialist team of budgeting and money advisers.

70. There are six caretaker areas for our main tower and maisonette blocks which have communal areas. Caretakers look after the estate by cleaning some of the areas such as removing graffiti, reporting repairs in communal areas and monitoring estate services.

residents sitting outside on Goldsmith Street

71. Norwich council properties are between 50 and 100% cheaper to rent than equivalent properties in the private sector.

72. In the 2018-19 financial year, 138 homes have been sold through Right to Buy.

73. In the 2018-19 financial year, 1,122 social housing properties were allocated, 524 of these being to new tenants.

74. In 2018 over 200 mutual exchanges took place involving our tenants.

75. NPS Norwich Limited began trading in March 2012 as a joint venture with Norwich City Council. NPS specialise in housing management and maintenance, building surveying and estates.

76. Former council offices were transformed this year into six new homes on Bullard Road. One of these houses included a modular kitchen which had been built entirely off-site before being attached to the property.

77. There are over 140 members of housing staff.

78. Normandie and Winchester towers are both 16 storeys high and measure 48 metres. These are the tallest council properties in Norwich’s housing stock.

79. Volunteer tenants have been carrying out estate audits since August 2010. They inspect communal spaces within housing estates from a tenant’s point of view. A total of 75 audits have been completed.

80. In the 2018-19 financial year, 85% of households who approached us about facing homelessness were prevented from becoming homeless.

81. There are currently around 450 Talkback panel members; tenants who have agreed to take part in surveys about different aspects of the housing service.

82. As of 2019 we have fitted 778 thermodynamic hot water installations and this year’s programme is to fit 150 installations.

83. In 2018-19 financial year, 481 new bathrooms and 461 new kitchens were installed.

84. We give away £1,200 in prize draw rewards every year to thank tenants for reporting a repair online or returning a repairs survey.

85. In 1952 Norwich was fifth among county boroughs in the country for the number of permanent homes to be built or rebuilt in the previous year.

86. In 1956 there was a ceremony held near Mousehold Heath to open the 6,000 post war council house to be built in Norwich.

87. The house painting programme was suspended during the Second World War period as factories were only making paint for military purposes.

88. During the Second World War Mousehold Heath served as a training ground for the soldiers stationed at the nearby Britannia and Nelson barracks. Tenants living nearby would often see them doing their training and the army tanks coming down the road.

89. The Norwich in Bloom competition attracts a lot of interest each year. In 2002 the tenants of Brook Place won the community category and were presented with a trophy by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress.

90. In 2019 Goldsmith Street housing was complete, providing 93 new homes to a Passivhaus standard. The development was the first social housing development to be awarded the RIBA Stirling prize.

91. We currently answer around 1,200 housing related calls per week in our customer contact centre and see around 270 people face-to-face in housing related appointments.

92. In 2006 the council joined up with a pioneering new website designed to help tenants to find suitable properties online if they were looking to swap their home with someone else. This website made mutual exchanges easier and is still in use today.

93. In 2003 a repairs appointment service was introduced providing tenants with a choice of a morning or afternoon appointment for any non-urgent repairs.

94. During 2018-19, 195 tenants were given extra support by the specialist support team to keep their tenancies on track.

95. During 2019-19, 241 tenants were helped with budgeting and money advice.

96. Alongside renting houses, the council owns around 3,400 garages and parking bays that are dotted around housing estates and the city centre.

97. Just under one third of current council owned houses in Norwich were built pre-Second World War.

98. Paying rent at a Post Office is the most popular method amongst tenants.

99. 60% of tenancies are held by a female and 40% by a male.

100. Five of our tenants are over 100 years old!

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