Council accused of risking £15m on housing plan
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Plans for 78 homes in King's Lynn have been approved but councillors were concerned it was putting taxpayers' money at risk.
West Norfolk Council (WNC) revealed plans for 78 houses on vacant land next to Salter's Road, off Columbia Way in King's Lynn, late last year.
Some 57 of the new properties will be offered to families on affordable tenancies, while the remaining 21 will be available under a shared ownership scheme.
The plans were brought to full council on Thursday evening, with recommendations that would see the council enter into a contract with Lovell homes to deliver the project and to agree to sell all the homes to Freebridge Community Housing (FCH).
The deputy leader of Labour at WNC, Ben Jones, said it was a difficult decision, as he wanted homes for local people but could not support the proposed scheme.
“When I look at the projected figures for this development, I cannot help believing that there will be a better scheme, providing more value for the over £14.8m on building 78 properties - that’s in excess of £190,000 per property.”
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Mr Jones said the council was projected to get a return of £100,000, and that was thanks to a grant from Homes England of more than £1m.
He also raised concerns about how much rent FCH could charge for rent and what happens if they do not want them.
“How can we as a council put at risk almost £15m? It seems that there nothing has been learnt from the KLIC debacle when over £5m of taxpayer money went down a black hole.”
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Fellow Labour councillor, Francis Bone, agreed, arguing that FCH is likely to be able to buy cheaper properties on the open market.
However, Independent councillor Alun Ryves disagreed, saying turning land without value into affordable homes is “what a council should be doing”.
Conservative councillor Adrian Lawrence said he was shocked that Labour councillors were voting against affordable housing, adding: “Not everything is about massive profits, and, yes, there is a grant helping us because it was seen that a grant was needed.
“We will be building social housing which is much needed.”
The council agreed to go ahead with the plan: 35 for, 11 against and four abstained.