December 13 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Concerns that affordable homes in Wells will be sold to fund the building of 1,000 new homes in other parts of north Norfolk are to be discussed by councillors next week.
Victory Housing recently announced plans to build 1,000 new homes across north Norfolk over the next 10 years, including “as many affordable homes as possible”.
Victory, which owns and manages more than 5,000 homes, took over north Norfolk’s housing stock when it was transferred from North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) in 2006. Its vision will be partially funded by selling off 300 “out-dated” properties.
Wells town councillor Ray Hewitt said: “Many of the homes which will be sold will be in Wells because they are older. Wells is landlocked by the Holkham Estate and cannot be included in the new-build programme.
“Hopkins Homes is planning to build 123 homes off Market Lane, but I can’t see many other places where they can build in Wells.”
NNDC’s cabinet recently approved a scheme to make £3.5m available to housing providers for loans to encourage the building of social housing.
Details are to be finalised, but NNDC said the loans will be made at a commercial rate of interest.
Mr Hewitt believes this funding should mean that there is no need to sell existing homes.
The issue is discussed at Wells Town Council’s meeting on Monday.
Mr Hewitt wants the council to urge Victory to reconsider its plans for Wells.
Victory chief executive John Archibald said: “Government grant funding for new affordable homes has been cut drastically.
“Either we sell a relatively small number of properties to be able to build considerably more new homes, and increase the supply of affordable homes; or do nothing and watch the supply of affordable homes reduce due to right-to-buy sales.
“Our plans represent a net gain of 70 new affordable homes a year, each year for the next 10 years.
“By no definition can this be called ‘asset-stripping’.
“Every penny of the funds raised by selling existing homes will be re-invested back into building new ones.”
Mr Archibald said only one property in Wells has been approved for sale.
He disputed Mr Hewitt’s claims that Wells could not be included in the new-build programme and said Victory was considering purchasing some of the affordable homes included within the Market Lane development.
NNDC leader Tom FitzPatrick said: “Since the current administration took control at the district council in May 2011, delivering housing and promoting jobs and the local economy have been at the forefront of our aspirations.”
He added: “We appreciate the pressures on communities such as Wells and planning permission has recently been given for 123 of houses in Wells, which will deliver 55 affordable homes.
“We have promoted the building of affordable homes at a number of locations and, just to provide some examples near Wells, this has resulted in eight homes at Hindringham, 24 homes at Fakenham and seven will soon be completed at Hempton.
“The district council really is working hard to promote the provision of affordable homes in these very challenging economic circumstances.”