Breckland Council hopes to ease housing shortage with Thetford court conversion
07:52 22 September 2014
A former magistrates’ court is all set to open as a complex of 14 flats as a £1.2m makeover nears completion.
The disused former Thetford Magistrates’ Court, next to Thetford Bus Station in Bridge Street, was given planning permission to be converted into flats in 2013.
Havebury Housing Partnership have now carried out the majority of the work, with potential tenants able to apply from this week in the aim of moving in at the end of October.
Havebury used a grant from the Homes and Community Agency to pay for the work, which will be used as social housing.
The work’s imminent completion comes as good news for Breckland Council, which has a shortage of social housing.
That shortage was highlighted in the recent case of Nicholas Day and Laura Skillings. The couple, from Thetford, faced homelessness after their wait for a home on Breckland’s housing waiting list offered only two homes in 11 weeks.
The council admitted at the time that it had more than 2,000 people currently on its waiting list, but could only home up to 700 a year.
It was also criticised after the approval of the first phase of the Thetford Sustainable Urban Extension for not ensuring more affordable housing was built as part of the scheme.
Developers Pigeon, who will manage the 5,000 home project, were required to make 8.9 per cent of the first phase of building into affordable housing. That is despite Breckland’s own guideline for affordable housing on developments being 40 per cent.
Elizabeth Gould, Breckland’s executive member for housing, said the flats would offer more people access to social housing.
“We already help around 700 families and individuals to move into appropriate housing each year, but it is important that we make additional social properties available so we can offer greater choice while also meeting rising demand,” she said.
The flats are a combination of one and two bedroom properties with their own kitchens and bathrooms.
Breckland has also granted Havebury permission to convert a former railway goods shed into six flats and construct four new affordable properties on the site.
Work is expected to get underway in the next couple of months, with the project due for completion around autumn 2015.
A spokesman for the council said: “Breckland also continues to work closely with housing developers across the district to ensure new developments include a proportion of affordable housing wherever possible. The council can also offer support in accessing the private rented market.”