Officials have drawn up a list of where almost 600 new affordable homes could be built in Norfolk... but are refusing to disclose their location.

The proposed properties are all on 'brownfield' sites - including disused and derelict land - and have been identified as part of a scheme to encourage the development of such land.

The project is a key aspect of Norfolk's pending devolution deal because if it goes ahead Norfolk County Council could receive £7m from Westminster to get construction work at the sites started.

But the council is refusing to say where the homes - which will all be classified as affordable - will be built, citing commercial confidentiality.

However, this level of secrecy has been condemned by opposition councillors who say the process should be more transparent or risk undermining public trust in the devolution process.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquartersNorfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters (Image: Mike Page)


All Norfolk district councils have been involved in drawing up the list, which is co-ordinated by County Hall, and the secret sites are located across the county.

The £7m fund is intended to help attract interest from developers - for instance by paying for the land to be cleared and made ready for building work.

To get the money, through the devolution deal, the council has to prove housing projects would not happen without financial support from the fund.

Work would have to start on site by the end of March 2026.

The Conservative-controlled council's infrastructure and development committee will, on Wednesday (May 15) discuss work to come up with the 'draft pipeline' of locations likely to be submitted to the government.

The £7m for brownfield site development forms only one part of the devolution package, along with an investment fund of £20m a year for 30 years and control of the £12m adult education budget.

Along with new powers and money, the deal will also see the county get its first directly-elected leader, to run Norfolk County Council. In July, the council will vote whether to change its structure to pave the way for such a post. The first election would be in May next year.


Brownfield sites are land which has generally been used for a previous purpose. The land is often disused or derelict, but can still be in use.

A report which will go before councillors states: "Norfolk has an urgent need to unlock the barriers to affordable housing delivery, regeneration, and wider housing growth.

"Through the development of a pipeline for the county, Norfolk Councils can begin to address some of the issues faced in the county and maximise the benefits of brownfield funding as has been evidenced elsewhere.

"Brownfield funding will enable the development of up to 583 new, affordable homes for Norfolk, across geographical locations.

"District councils have been able to utilise their local knowledge to direct this work to where it is most needed for residents and where sites can be released most effectively, in
spaces that meet brownfield criteria for funding."

Eastern Daily Press: Anglia Square in NorwichAnglia Square in Norwich (Image: Archant)

The council says the locations will not be revealed until later in the year, but examples of brownfield sites earmarked for development include Anglia Square and the former Colmans site in Norwich, Boal Quay and Harding's Pit in King's Lynn and North Quay in Great Yarmouth.


Eastern Daily Press: Brian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County CouncilBrian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Norfolk County Council (Image: Liberal Democrats)

Brian Watkins, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: "There is no reason why this should be kept behind closed doors and inaccessible to the public.

"The Liberal Democrats urge the county council to be more transparent and increase their efforts to reach as many residents as possible about the opportunities that devolution can bring.

"Transparency is vital and we must bring the people of Norfolk on this journey with us."

Eastern Daily Press: Labour group leader Steve MorphewLabour group leader Steve Morphew (Image: Denise Bradley)

Steve Morphew, Labour group leader, said: "If the council is trying to develop trust in devolution, then there needs to be transparency from the beginning.

"If the argument is that brownfield sites are an important part of the deal, then they need to take communities along with them from the start and not, at a later date, tell them what is going to be happening to them."

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County Council leader Kay Mason BilligNorfolk County Council leader Kay Mason Billig (Image: Norfolk County Council)

But county council leader Kay Mason Billig defended the process

“Devolution will bring major benefits to Norfolk and will open the door to even more," she said.

"We have been working hard to ensure all the groundwork is there, so that we can take this forward, if councillors agree.”