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Future of Colman’s site could hinge on levy break to encourage new Norwich homes

The Britvic and Unilever site at Carrow Works in Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher

The Britvic and Unilever site at Carrow Works in Norwich. Picture: Nick Butcher

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Developers behind major schemes deemed crucial to regenerating parts of Norwich could be excused from paying a levy of thousands of pounds.

Norwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian Burt.Norwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian Burt.

And that could help determine what happens on the Colman’s site, once it becomes empty.

The leader of Norwich City Council says such an exemption could be key to getting development on brownfield sites around the city, including at the Colman’s site, once Britvic and Unilever have left the city.

At the moment, developers building new homes or floorspace have to pay the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). That is money which local councils can use to put towards infrastructure, such as schools, roads and leisure facilities.

But Norwich City Council is mulling over whether to introduce an exemption in “exceptional circumstances”, so the council does not impose the levy if it would “have an unacceptable impact on the economic viability of the development”.

Alan Waters, leader of the city council, said: “The council has made a very clear intent to develop out brownfield sites across Norwich.

“It’s very important to provide the homes, communities and jobs that people in the city need.

“We are active in pursuing inward investment and we have a range of sites, not least the land which will be created by the departure of Colman’s/Unilever and the hinterlands which lie behind that.”

He said some of the site were proving very complex to get developed and said: “There’s clearly no CIL money to be had from a site which is not developed.”

Officers had recommended that the council cabinet recommend full council to approve introduction of the exception policy. But it was deferred to a future meeting, so more analysis can be done.

Council officers said developers would still contribute in other ways, such as through affordable housing or money for other schemes, such as playgrounds.

Earlier this year, the council was successful in securing government money to help unlock infrastructure around the proposed Anglia Square redevelopment.

But the council missed out on money for the Deal Ground, where permission for nearly 700 homes was granted in 2013, but where work has yet to start.

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