A developer has been accused of putting “a gun to the head” of councillors and forcing them to approve a plan to cut affordable housing from a development in Holt. 

Members of North Norfolk District Council’s (NNDC) planning committee have agreed a plan to cut 23 affordable homes from a 52-house project off Hempstead Road, “with a heavy heart”. 

Instead, the 23 properties will be sold at a “near market level” to a housing association, with funding from government grants.

The developer insisted that selling the properties below market value, a condition of its original planning application in 2020, would not be viable due to the additional cost of dealing with contamination on the land. 

A plan to reduce affordable housing was originally heard in February – at a meeting Hopkins did not attend. 

But the application was deferred by councillors who wanted a solution to be found, fearing that if they rejected it the government’s Planning Inspectorate would side with the developer and approve it. 

NNDC’s officers have worked with housing association Flagship Homes to buy 23 homes from the developer using government grant funding as well as Section 106 money – cash from developers to provide community infrastructure. 

Councillors debated the application for an hour, with heavy criticism for the developer before approving it “with a heavy heart”.

Nigel Pearce accused Hopkins Homes of trying to “put a gun to our heads expecting us to pull the trigger”. 

Eastern Daily Press: Nigel PearceNigel Pearce (Image: Paul Heinrich)

He said: “We are in a situation where if we don’t allow it we lose the housing and if we do allow it we are criticised because we have taken the risk away from a developer and given it to someone else.  

“I think that’s appalling.” 

John Lieberman from Hopkins said it was a "challenging application" but insisted they were trying to move forward positively.

It was approved nine votes for, four against and one abstention.



Jonathan Lieberman, head of planning at Hopkins Homes, said there were "pleased to have arrived at a resolution" and the scheme would be going ahead.

He said: "It was always our aim to provide 23 affordable homes at this development. However, it became unviable to do so as originally planned, and the challenges we faced were agreed upon by the district council.

"These challenges included the significant rise in construction and supply costs in the industry at a time when the average house price increase is at a slower rate."

Mr Lieberman insisted the developer considers affordable housing to be a "key consideration" in all applications.