Hundreds of garages across north Norfolk could make way for new homes

John Archibald, chief executive of the Victory Housing Trust.

John Archibald, chief executive of the Victory Housing Trust. - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of garages in north Norfolk's towns and villages could be scrapped and replaced with new homes as part of a district-wide audit.

Victory Housing is asking its tenants and those who use its 798 garages about what they would like to see done to the parking blocks.

John Archibald, Victory chief executive, said the consultation was being rolled out as part of the social landlord's charter, which outlines 34 'promises' it has made to residents, including bringing retained garages up to an agreed standard by 2015. But he said some of the blocks, spread out over 69 locations, were becoming difficult to rent so other options were being put to tenants.

'Quite a lot of our garages are not actually wanted by the residents. The days of people parking cars in garages are long gone and they tend to be used for storage,' he added.

'We will improve and upgrade our garages but we want to make sure they're in demand before we spend a lot of money improving them. We think there maybe potential to build on the site(s) and build new affordable housing.'

Other options being put forward include using the garage footprints for other amenities, such as providing car parking spaces or children's play areas.

The plans have received a mixed reaction from town and parish councillors.

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There were concerns in Holt that the loss of 30 garages near homes in Manor Walk and Shrublands Court could put more pressure on already strained parking in the town.

Mayor Bryan Payne said: 'We don't believe there's enough room on that site for cars for parking because they're talking about putting houses where the garages are.' Councillors have asked Victory to meet them to fully explain the situation.

Vivienne Uprichard, town councillor in North Walsham – where Victory has been given planning permission to demolish seven garages in Cooper Road and replace them with four new flats – said the alternative use could be welcomed in some areas.

'In some places garages are just unsightly and a focal point for anti-social behaviour,' she added. 'And if they're not being used then I don't like the idea of empty garages sitting there when that space could be put to another use.'

But she said in other circumstances garages could be a great asset for residents, which must be considered, and thought Victory was facing a 'difficult balancing act'.

Mr Archibald acknowledged each garage site was 'unique' and responses to each would be fully considered.

He added: 'We're getting close to our 2015 target so that's why it's happening now. It's quite important for us to start planning our financial year and if we're to start improving garage sites we need to set aside quite a lot of money for the 2014/15 budget.'

The consultation will run through October and November and is hoped to be completed by Christmas.