Alarm over Victory Housing Trust sale of three-bedroomed homes in North Walsham

Wellington Construction managing director Paul Ollington (top left) and Victory Housing Trust chief

Wellington Construction managing director Paul Ollington (top left) and Victory Housing Trust chief executive John Archibald (top right) top out the new homes, watched by (from left) Paul Ollington (Wellington Construction), Carla Potter (project managers Oxbury & Co), Darryl Cox (Victory Housing Trust) and Jamie Tennant (Wellington Construction) - Credit: Archant

Alarm is mounting in north Norfolk over the sale of social housing on the open market.

North Walsham Town Council is writing to Victory Housing chief executive John Archibald expressing concern that the social landlord is selling off three-bedroomed homes in the town.

And North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has written to some residents saying he has asked Mr Archibald to meet them and explain what Victory is doing.

But Mr Archibald has mounted a robust defence of Victory's policy saying the sales would help pay for 1,000 new affordable homes in north Norfolk over the next decade.

Dave Robertson told the recent town council meeting that there were 4,800 households on North Norfolk District Council's waiting list, 1,000 more than in the previous year. Of those, 52 wanted a three-bedroomed home in the North Walsham area.

But he was aware of 15 three-bedroomed Victory homes up for sale in the town.

Some of them had been refurbished relatively recently, with new kitchens, bathrooms and heating systems, Mr Robertson added.

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'If you are living in squalid accommodation, they would be an absolute Godsend,' he added.

'These 1,000 new homes are all very well but where? When? How long have people got to wait? In the meantime people could be living in those properties.'

Eric Seward said he understood Victory's policy which was aimed at plugging a funding gap to cover the cost of the new houses following the withdrawal of government cash.

But he had thought they would only be selling homes which were difficult to upgrade.

'Where I think they've gone wrong is that they are actually selling off properties that are in good condition,' he added.

In a letter sent to some Victory homes, Mr Lamb said he had been contacted by a number of residents about the sale: 'it's clear that there are strong feelings on the issue, particularly over the sale of good quality three-bedroom houses,' he wrote.

He added that he had written to Mr Archibald asking him to meet local residents to give them the chance to have their say.

Mr Archibald said he had not yet received Mr Lamb's letter. 'I will have no difficulty standing up and explaining our policy,' he added.

'Everybody welcomes new building but in order to achieve that we have to have a pragmatic policy of funding them.'

Since 2006, Victory had built 70 new homes in North Walsham, seven of which were three-bedroomed and two four-bedroomed. A further 51 were under construction of which five would be three bedroomed and three four-bedroomed. Demand was greatest for two-bedroomed homes.

'Yes, we are selling some properties but we are building at a far greater rate and it's a myth to say that we are not building three-bedroomed homes,' said Mr Archibald.

'I am not apologising for our record in North Walsham. In fact, it's very strong.'