Decontamination of Norwich depot must be done by 2020 or council could have to pay back nearly £1m

The Mile Cross depot. Picture: Google

The Mile Cross depot. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Council bosses will need to get Norwich's Mile Cross depot demolished, decontaminated and ready for homes to be built on by 2020 - or run the risk of having to give the government almost £1m back.

Norwich City Council chief executive Laura McGillivray. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich City Council chief executive Laura McGillivray. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Demolishing Norwich's Mile Cross depot, to make way for hundreds of new homes, will cost almost £2m – because the site is so contaminated, council bosses have revealed.

City councillors tonight agreed to make £1.98m available for works at the site, where investigations found chemical contaminants such as asbestos, along with low levels of ground gas.

Demolition of buildings at the 10.5-acre site, off Mile Cross Road, would cost an estimated £700,000, but a contamination specialist said a further £1.2m would need to go on decontamination.

Not all would come from City Hall's coffers. The government has made nearly £1m available through a grant, which the council has to match fund.

The Mile Cross depot. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Mile Cross depot. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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But, if the site is not ready by 2020, the government could ask for their money back.

The council has yet to decide what to do with the site, but options include:

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Selling the site to a private developer.

Transferring or selling the site to the city council's own company Norwich Regeneration Limited (NRL) to build up to 250 homes.

Transferring part of the site to NRL, with the council hanging on to the rest to build 'health and wellbeing and other community facilities'.

The last option is currently the 'preferred way forward' and a business case will come before the council in November.

Most recently, the site was the Mile Cross Business Centre, but the council served notice on occupiers in 2016. Before that it was the council's City Works depot.

The city council recently confirmed it wanted to take contracts for street cleaning, parks and maintenance of council homes off Norse and back in-house.

And Green group leader Denise Carlo asked, at this evening's cabinet meeting, if the council might base the workforce at the depot.

But chief executive Laura McGillivray said: 'It wouldn't be our preference to use that site as a depot. It's much more suitable for housing and other options. But at this stage, no firm decisions have been taken.'

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