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Plans for housing at Mile Cross depot site progress despite fears

PUBLISHED: 16:53 11 June 2020 | UPDATED: 16:53 11 June 2020

About 150 council homes could be built at the former Mile Cross depot site. Picture: Google

About 150 council homes could be built at the former Mile Cross depot site. Picture: Google

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A council scheme to transform a former depot site into hundreds of new homes and a GP surgery have moved forward, despite environmental standards fears.

Gail Harris, Labour councillor for Catton Grove in Norwich City Council. Pic: SubmiitedGail Harris, Labour councillor for Catton Grove in Norwich City Council. Pic: Submiited

Norwich City Council members agreed to progress redeveloping the old Mile Cross depot site into up to 200 new council homes.

On Wednesday, June 10, cabinet members agreed plans to “enable a social-housing led development” and granted £180,000 to progress a planning application for the site.

The former depot, and old Mile Cross Business Centre, was demolished ahead of the intention to redevelop the land, allocated within the Greater Norwich Local Plan (GNLP) for at least 75 homes.

READ MORE: Hopes for new Norwich swimming pool dashed after £200,000 study

Sandra Bogelein, Green Party group leader and city councillor for Mancroft ward. Pic: Green Party.Sandra Bogelein, Green Party group leader and city councillor for Mancroft ward. Pic: Green Party.

The council received almost £1m from the government to help pay for decontamination works.

And plans for a new swimming pool as part of the development were rejected as unfeasible, after a £200,000 viability study, conducted by the council’s own arms length company Norwich Regeneration Ltd (NRL), found “there would not be sufficient surplus generated to fund building the leisure centre”.

READ MORE: Hopes for new city swimming pool as race to clear potential site is won

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Speaking at the meeting, Gail Harris, deputy leader and cabinet member for social housing said: “Mile Cross was the first housing development built by the council and we can’t wait to build more homes for the people of Norwich.”

A cabinet report on the scheme stated: “Master planning work carried out by NRL has shown that approximately 150 homes could be achieved on the site alongside a small health facility for a GP practice and pharmacy.”

And the council believes a social housing led scheme could see a higher density, which will help it replace lost housing provision.

READ MORE: Race to decontaminate potential site for Norwich homes and swimming pool

But Green Party group leader Sandra Bogelein said she was “disappointed” the council was moving away from the Passivhaus standard of its eco-friendly homes at Goldsmith Street and queried the cost implications of lower environmental standards - the exact details of which were kept out of the public discussion.

“We are looking at a future where we will need to radically cut emissions,” she said.

“I would like to question the extent of these cost implications in a rather vague way, as the exact costs are below the line. “

Andrew Turnbull, interim housing development manager, said: “We will continue to look at opportunities for the development and put that to members to see what is the preferred option.”

Councillors hope on-site work will begin in the autumn of 2021.

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