More than 500 new council homes could be built, but tower block bill could top £60m

PUBLISHED: 07:06 13 November 2019 | UPDATED: 08:55 13 November 2019

Award winning community built on Goldsmith Street in Norwich.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2019

Award winning community built on Goldsmith Street in Norwich. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

A target to build 500 council homes in Norwich by 2026 is being readied by City Hall leaders - but millions could also need to be spent to improve tower blocks.

Normandie Tower, Norwich. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodNormandie Tower, Norwich. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Just under £100m is available in Norwich City Council's budget to build new homes and for maintenance on the 14,729 tenanted homes, 3,059 leasehold homes and 3,333 garages.

About £94m was spent in the past seven years to improve council homes.

But the success of the council-built Goldsmith Street development, which won the RIBA architecture prize, means City Hall leaders are keen to build more.

There are 4,024 people on its waiting list and about 140 homes of council stock is sold under right to buy each year.

Gail Harris, deputy leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Archant Library.Gail Harris, deputy leader of Norwich City Council. Pic: Archant Library.

The Labour-run cabinet is due to agree its council housing strategy for Norwich from 2020 to 2026 when it meets his afternoon.

Gail Harris, cabinet member with responsibility for social housing, sets what she accepts is a "challenging target" to build at least 500 new council homes within the strategy's lifetime.

The council has yet to indicate where those homes could be built.

But the council is also facing some "very significant costs" around the eight tower blocks it owns - Normandie Tower, Winchester Tower, Aylmer Tower, Seaman Tower, Markham Tower, Ashbourne Tower, Burleigh Tower and Compass Tower.

Some £2m was spent to make them safer following the Grenfell fire tragedy, but up to £60m could need to be spent in the next decade for new boilers and replacement windows - with a review of the blocks in the pipeline.

Ms Harris said: "As well as building new homes, the council is committed to making sure that the homes in our stock are of the best possible standard.

"That's why we intend to build at least 500 new homes, while also carrying out appropriate reviews to make sure we can complete any improvements needed to some of our older properties."

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: "We carried out a thorough safety review of all our tower blocks following the Grenfell fire, which showed that each block was structurally sound.

"The options analysis for the long-term maintenance of our eight tower blocks is yet to be carried out, but this will assess the best way for us to future-proof all the flats in the blocks."

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