March 11 2014 Latest news:
By alex hurrell
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Former council houses in north Norfolk could be sold to people from outside the county under a proposed relaxation in the rules.
Tom FitzPatrick, leader of North Norfolk District Council (NNDC), hopes the change would help key workers, such as nurses and teachers, to move to the area, and prevent unsold homes remaining empty.
At present anyone owning a former council home in many parts of the district can only sell it to someone whose main home or place of work has been in Norfolk for the previous three years.
Only homes in Cromer, Holt, North Walsham, Sheringham and Fakenham are exempt from the rule.
But NNDC receives at least one request a month from a would-be buyer from outside the county, and from home owners who would like the rule to be more flexible.
Mr FitzPatrick said that in the past NNDC had removed the restriction in exceptional circumstances.
For example, a couple from outside Norfolk had been allowed to buy a former council house in Wells because they were both going to fill key jobs in the local community.
Now NNDC is hoping to draw up a policy, giving housing chiefs the power to waive the restriction within strict guidelines. NNDC’s cabinet, meeting on Monday, is set to recommend the move to the full council.
If approved, vendors would have to prove that their property had been on the market for at least 12 months at an “appropriate” price.
“We don’t want to see empty properties which have been on the market for 12 months with no purchaser coming forward,” said NNDC chief executive Sheila Oxtoby. “This would enable us to let common sense prevail.”
The restriction would stay with the property so that next time it went on sale the vendor would still have to spend at least one year trying to find a suitable Norfolk buyer.