£10m homes plan for Norwich’s Greyhound Opening scandal site

Flashback: The Greyhound Opening site before it was demolished.

Flashback: The Greyhound Opening site before it was demolished.

Archant © 2010

A patch of derelict land in Norwich, which was at the centre of the biggest scandal to hit City Hall in years, is to be sold to make way for a multi-million pound development of almost a hundred homes.

Norwich City Council leaders last night rubber-stamped a deal to sell land at Greyhound Opening to housing association Orbit Housing Association, which has pledged to invest up to £10m to build affordable homes at the site.

Greyhound Opening made national headlines in 2008 after it emerged that, contrary to city council policy, council staff had moved into the homes, after elderly people who lived there moved out.

The pensioners who lived there and in nearby Goldsmith Street were being re-homed to make way for new houses.

While the council had agreed officers relocating to Norwich could go into the homes, so elderly people who had yet to move out would not feel isolated, it was against policy for other staff to move in.

It sparked a scandal at City Hall, with calls for an independent inquiry, and led to the sacking of Kristine Reeves, the council’s head of neighbourhood and strategic housing, who was among those who moved into the properties.

For four years the site, near Old Palace Road, has stood empty, but in February, the council revealed it was on the brink of selling the site to Orbit Housing Association. And last night, the council agreed a deal which will see the housing association invest up to £10m in a new development of 93 homes, all of which will initially be available for ‘affordable rent’.

That means the council will be able to place some of the people on its waiting list in some of the homes, which are likely to be a mix of two, three and four bedroom houses and one and two bedroom flats.

Victoria MacDonald, cabinet member for housing, said: “This is a good news story because when this came to cabinet earlier in the year the proposal was to split the housing between ones available for affordable rent and low cost ownership sold on the open market, “But fortunately, Orbit have come back and said it can be 100pc affordable housing on the site, which is a far better offer and more in keeping with what we need in the city.

“We welcome this and the opportunities it will create for jobs, construction and housing in the city.”

Bert Bremner, cabinet member for planning and transportation, added: “This is an investment which will see money going into the the building supply industry. It’s about jobs, homes and prosperity.”

Orbit plans to start building on the site by May next year, with a view to getting the homes finished by March 2015.

Householders and businesses in the Goldsmith Street area will be written to this month with details of how they can take part in a consultation about the new homes, with a planning application set to be lodged before Christmas.

• Do you have a story about a local council? Call Norwich Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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