Council houses bid by Norwich

JON WELCH New council homes could be built in Norwich for the first time in nearly two decades after the city was placed at the forefront of the government's new housing agenda.

JON WELCH

New council homes could be built in Norwich for the first time in nearly two decades after the city was placed at the forefront of the government's new housing agenda.

Norwich City Council is one of just two local authorities in the country to be chosen to bid for funding for new council housing as part of the government's £8bn invest-ment in affordable and social housing over the next three years.

If successful, an initial 150 homes will be built in Norwich, but there are hopes they could pave the way for more.

Council leader Steve Morphew said: "This will be a real boost for young couples and families as we will be able to offer more affordable homes for those setting up households for the first time."

Norwich will form part of the largest affordable housing plans for a generation, announced on Monday by housing minister Yvette Cooper as she launched the government's housing green paper.

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The council is bidding for funding from the Housing Corporation and, if success-ful, will be one of the first local authorities to receive a grant from the government agency in its 43-year history.

The council plans to deliver the new homes through a subsidiary company it would own, but at this stage the level of funding, the number of homes and their location have not been revealed.

The last council house in Norwich was built in 1990, and it is hoped the money will go some way to resolving the ongoing affordable homes crisis in the city.

The city council currently runs about 16,500 homes, of which roughly 4,000 are managed by housing assoc-iations. However, there are about 7,000 individuals and families on the waiting list.

The only other local authority chosen to bid for the grant is Knowsley Borough Council. The two councils are among more than 100 bodies, including housing trusts and construction firms, compet-ing for the money.

A final announcement on which have been successful is expected early next year.

Norwich North MP Ian Gibson said: "This could be a big week for Norwich City Council with this great opportunity to build more affordable housing and, with the decision on unitary status not far away, it might be the biggest week for many, many years and will be an advantage to many, many people."

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