Bid for £70m to kick-start the building of thousands of new Norfolk homes

An artist's impression of the Beeston Park project Pic: Archant Library.

An artist's impression of the Beeston Park project Pic: Archant Library. - Credit: submitted

A £70m bid, which council leaders say would kick-start the building of more than 13,500 new homes to the north of Norwich, is entering a crucial period.

Andrew Proctor Pic: Bill Smith/Norfolk County Council

Andrew Proctor Pic: Bill Smith/Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

If the government stumps up the money, it would be used to build the roads and infrastructure needed for thousands of new homes earmarked for Old Catton, Sprowston and Rackheath.

Norfolk County Council and Broadland District Council have asked the government for £70m from the £5bn Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The bid for Forward Funding money from that pot is for almost 8,000 new homes in the Broadland Growth Triangle area, which forms part of what would be the largest urban extension in the country, of 13,500 homes.

A 3,500 home development in Old Catton and Sprowston, called Beeston Park, got outline planning permission in 2013, but work has yet to start, while a masterplan for up to 4,000 homes in North Rackheath has been endorsed, which will pave the way for a future planning application.

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The Rackheath North masterplan could see thousands of new homes, a Second World War memorial park and three schools built in the village.

Broadland council, developers Barratt/David Wilson Homes, and the majority landowner, Manor Farms ltd, are co-ordinating its development.

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It will also include 1,500sqm of retail space.

But council bosses say the money from the government would help put the infrastructure in place to allow those projects to get off the ground.

They want to use the money to create an infrastructure fund for Beeston Park and North Rackheath, so developers could borrow from the councils and repay as land is developed.

It would also be used to buy land south of Salhouse Road to build a new link road connection. Earlier this year a 380-home development on two fields between Salhouse Road in Sprowston and Plumstead Road East was given permission.

Council bosses say it would enable, or accelerate, building of up to 7,720 homes, and support the delivery of 13,500 homes in total.

The next few weeks will see the government working with the council to fine tune the details, ahead of funding announcements in the autumn.

Andrew Proctor, Broadland District Council leader, said: 'We appreciate at this stage there is no guarantee of funding but we look forward to working closely with the minister's department in developing a more detailed business case for the Broadland Growth Triangle.

'Our focus will be on enabling infrastructure across three key sites and to convert large unserviced development land into smaller, serviced parcels more suited to the local housebuilder market, including SME builders.'

Keith Kiddie, chair of Norfolk County Council's business and property committee, said the fact that the government was continuing to work with the council on the bid was a 'fantastic voice of confidence in Norfolk'.

He said: 'We look forward to working with partners across the public sector, but particularly in central government, to develop the business case to provide much needed homes and jobs in the county.'

Norfolk has already been awarded money through another element of the Housing Infrastructure Fund, the Marginal Viability Fund.

In February, the government announced that it would release £12m in a bid to unlock the development of Anglia Square - a proposal which has proved controversial, with hundreds of objections to the scheme.

However, Norwich City Council's bid for money to develop the Deal Ground, near Trowse, was not successful. In 2013, Serruys Property Company was given outline permission for up to 670 homes at the Deal Ground site, but work has yet to start on the £110m scheme.

But there was a boost for the Thetford Sustainable Urban Expension (SUE). Breckland Council has been handed £9.9m towards the upfront reinforcement of power supplies and drinkable water for the 771 hectare development.

The plan includes 5,000 new homes to the north of the town, along with three primary schools, employment land, commercial centres and new road junctions.

South Norfolk Council succeeded with a bid too. The council was awarded £5.5m to unlock development on land to the south of the A11 at Cringleford.

The idea is that, by getting the road infrastructure in place it will enable earlier sale of small parcels of land to small and medium developers.

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