Forget council cutbacks - South Norfolk Council is investing £10million on its own new housing development at Maple Park, Long Stratton
- Credit: Archant
Most people would traditionally only think of their local council keeping the streets clean and collecting the bins.
But one local authority has continued to move into what might be considered a slightly more unusual area for councils - house-building.
While most of local government is having to make cutbacks, South Norfolk Council (SNC) has gone into the property market by setting up its own development company.
Big Sky Developments, as it is called, has already built one series of homes at Rosebery Park, Poringland.
And it is now investing £10m in building 50 homes in Swan Lane, Long Stratton.
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The Maple Park site will also include 800sq m of business space with open plan and modular office units.
At the unveiling of the first show home, SNC leader John Fuller said: 'This is just the start' - and even set the council's sights on breaking the monopoly of big builders such as Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon Homes.
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He also hopes there will be a 10pc return on investment.
'The council has a role to get involved here,' Mr Fuller argued. 'There's a moral case for building more homes.
'It's good business and it's good for the economy. We've got to build more homes but we can't have it so only big national firms have a monopoly.'
Mr Fuller pointed out that house-building is in fact nothing new for councils, as local authorities commonly built housing after the Second World War.
Stratton ward councillor Des Fulcher said: 'This is adding some much-needed housing for Long Stratton, as there is more demand than supply.'
And Mr Fuller said: 'We need more young families.
'Although new homes aren't always popular, a good quality mix of homes does keep our schools going and the buses running.
'Every village ought to be wanting homes like this, not fighting them.'
But Mr Fuller added: 'Let's not shy away from the fact this is a business investment. There are good commercial reasons for doing this.
'Government funding is less and less and less, but the council can't keep putting council tax up more and more and more. We've got to live off our wits.
'If there is a surplus, it helps keep council tax down for everyone.'
Inside the new Maple Park homes
The Maple Park development is made up of 50 residential properties including two, three and four-bedroom houses.
Prices start at around £200,000, with this three-bedroom home setting you back around £250,000.
Among its selling points are its proximity to Norwich - it is about 20mins drive away on the A140 - and quality of life, as South Norfolk is regularly rated as one of the best places to live in the country.
Of the 50 homes, five are kept as affordable homes and 10 will be available for rent, with 35 for sale on the open market. Some will also include bungalows.
The 800 sq m of business space is designed to offer a range of open plan and modular office units, suitable for a variety of businesses including start-ups and companies looking to expand.
The Maple Park show home opens this Saturday, April 1 at 10am. The first offices will be available to let later this year.
For more information, visit www.bigskydevelopments.co.uk or call 01508 533916.