Eight years on, work to start within months on £13m home scheme on Norwich scandal site
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016
Work will start within months on a £13m housing development at one of the most controversial patches of land in Norwich.
Nearly eight years after the site, including Greyhound Opening and Goldsmith Street, became mired in scandal, Norwich City Council construction is finally due to start.
The site made headlines in 2008, after it emerged city council officers had moved into sheltered housing, contrary to council policy.
People living in some houses were being re-homed ahead of redevelopment of the site. The council had agreed officers relocating to Norwich could move into some empty properties, so elderly people who had yet to move would not feel isolated.
But it was against policy for other staff to move in. One who did was Kristine Reeves, the council's head of neighbourhood and strategic housing, who ended up being sacked.
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Years, later and the site is still a boarded-up eyesore. However, last year, the city council's planning committee approved plans for 105 homes - 56 one-bedroom flats, four three-bedroom flats, 32 two-bedroom houses, eight three-bedroom houses and five four-bedroom houses.
Now a legal document over how many of the homes will be affordable has been signed, it means the council can tender for them to be built.
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A council spokesman said: 'We have completed all preliminary works at the site, which will enable the selected contractor to really hit the ground running. We hope to be on site as soon as possible following completion of the tender process.'
People living nearby still have concerns - over access, parking and sewerage.
One neighbour said: 'At least they are getting their finger out and doing something, but they should never have knocked down the homes without a plan in place in the first place.'
Following the scandal, the homes were demolished in 2009 to make way for new homes.
The council said a plan to build on the site soon afterwards had been scuppered because of changes in government policy on grants and funding for social housing.
A deal was then struck in 2012 for the city council to sell the site to Orbit Housing Association, which had agreed to invest £10m to build affordable homes on the site.
However, that deal fell through in 2013, partly because the economic climate meant Orbit was finding it difficult to make the scheme viable.
The other reason was that new rules over how councils are allowed to manage their housing revenue accounts meant the city council was in a position where it could develop the site itself.
Then last year, the council submitted its plans for 105 homes on the 1.2 hectare site, which were agreed in October last year.