Reclaim brownfield for houses – minister

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith invited housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis to visit Warrenwood

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith invited housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis to visit Warrenwood Court. Picture: SUPPLIED. - Credit: Archant

Transforming underused brownfield sites into new homes could be one of the solutions to the country's housing shortage, a minister has said.

Brandon Lewis, the MP for Great Yarmouth and the housing and planning minister, was visiting a site in Mile Cross, Norwich where 76 garages have been turned into 15 socially-rented homes. He was accompanied by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.

The site at Warrenwood Court was opened in March 2013, as one of 18 brownfield housing developments by Norwich City Council, Orwell Housing and the Homes and Communities Agency, which created 108 new homes. A further 21 sites are being considered for development.

Mr Lewis, who toured several of the other sites yesterday, said: 'There are lots of things we need to do to meet the challenges and this is part of the jigsaw.'

He said he had been encouraged by a pilot project to train local unemployed people to work on the site, and give them the skills for continued work.

He added: 'Every home built creates four jobs on average and bringing people into the industry is good. Earlier this year I was opening brick factories, but developers say the biggest challenge is having the skills out there to build the houses.'

Ms Smith said Warrenwood Court was a positive example for the city, adding: 'It is important to be able to use brownfield land. I'll carry on campaigning for more homes for Norwich people that can be developed in a sensitive way.'

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