Government deal will build 770 affordable homes

About 770 new affordable homes will be built across East Anglia during the next four years as part of a �14m government deal with housing providers.

The agreement, between the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the e� consortium of housing associations, aims to improve affordability in an area where average property prices are 11 times the average salary.

The investment will fund 312 homes in Norfolk, 401 in Suffolk, 51 in Essex and six in Cambridgeshire.

Most are expected to be affordable rented homes for those on the housing needs list, with some offered as shared ownership for renters wanting to take a first step onto the property ladder. About 30pc will be provided in rural locations, and about 25 homes will be provided for people with learning disabilities.

Specific locations for potential developments have not been released, as planning permissions must still be sought, but consortium members said they would be targeted to meet local needs, and where suitable land was available.

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The e� consortium is led by Orwell Housing Association and includes Saffron Housing Trust, Freebridge Community Housing, Havebury Housing Partnership and Greenfields Community Housing.

Many of the new homes in Norfolk will be in the south and west of the county – the two districts whose council housing stock is now managed by Saffron and Freebridge, respectively.

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Saffron Housing Trust chief executive Adam Ronaldson said: 'I think it is good news that there is still some funding coming from outside Norfolk that allows new affordable homes to be developed within Norfolk. It is recognition that we still need to continued building homes for people to live in.

'In South Norfolk, there is an average of 450-500 affordable properties that become available for rent every year, but there is 8-10 times that number on the housing register who want to move into affordable housing. The demand is so much higher than supply in all sectors of the housing market.'

Freebridge Community Housing manages almost 7,000 homes in West Norfolk, about half of which are in and around King's Lynn. Its share of the HCA allocation is �1.44m, which will build 72 new units between 2011-2015.

Chief executive Tony Hall said: 'Providing good quality, low cost homes in West Norfolk is a priority for us and this funding will enable us to work with partners to identify sites where we can develop new homes which meet local housing needs.'

The deal is among the first to be completed as part of the HCA's new Affordable Homes Programme, which aims to deliver 80,000 new properties across England by 2015.

Wendy Evans-Hendrick, is director of development and property services for Orwell Housing Association, which manages 3,000 properties in East Anglia, with most of its stock located in Ipswich and Lowestoft.

She said: 'The approval of the e� development programme is fantastic news, not just for the partners of e� and the HCA but more importantly for all the local communities in the East region who will benefit from these much needed homes.'

The other e� partners are Havebury, which operates the former housing stocks of St Edmundsbury Borough Council in Suffolk, and Essex-based Greenfields Community Housing.

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