Report shows Norwich is off target for new homes

A new report has revealed when and where council bosses hope many of the 37,500 new homes they say are needed in and around Norwich over the next decade will be built.

But with the number of homes being constructed badly hit by the economic downturn, they admit they are below target for the number of homes they believe are needed in Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk.

The Greater Norwich Development Partnership's (GNDP) new annual report shows which city sites are expected to be developed in the next five years and how many homes it is hoped will be built each year.

Many of the plots, including St Anne's Wharf, Greyhound Opening, Rackheath and Queen's Hills in Costessey have caused controversy.

The sites are included in the GNDP's updated five-year land supply plan which earmarks which developments can be realistically built over the next five years.

But with house building in the doldrums because of the economic downturn, much of the development envisaged in the housing blueprint, known as the Joint Core Strategy (JCS), is unlikely to happen until 2017.

The GNDP – made up of Norwich, Broadland and South Norfolk councils – is waiting for a High Court judge to give his decision on the JCS after a legal challenge.

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David Hook, pictured, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said: 'Norfolk is special because it has a relatively low population density and is relatively remote from large industrial urban conurbations.

'It is more tranquil, suffers less light and noise pollution and settlements are generally compact and separated from each other.

'It is these features that the massive growth threatens.

'CPRE Norfolk welcome the fact that the rate of house building is below target and urges the GNDP to reduce considerably its overall house-building target by 2026.'

The annual report acknowledges the number of homes being built is currently below the rate needed to hit 37,500 by 2026.

In 2008/09 completions were 17pc below target, in 2009/10 they were 41pc below target and in 2010/11, 44pc below target.

And the report states: 'It does mean that over the remainder of the plan period, annual housing completions will have to increase in order to meet the overall JCS target of 37,500 new homes.'

Government policy requires each district to identify a five-year supply of land for housing and the report shows as of last April there was a shortfall of 2,000 homes in the Norwich Policy Area.

The report shows that the Three Score site, at Bowthorpe, being developed by Norwich Council in partnership with the Homes and Communities Agency is one of the key sites. Forty homes should be ready by next year and 345 by 2017.

And there is still hope that work will happen at the city's St Anne's Wharf. Hopes for hundreds of new homes on the five-acre site between King Street and the river Wensum were dealt a blow last year when the developers went into administration.

But council leaders remain optimistic, with the report saying 90 homes could be completed by 2014 and 357 by the end of 2017.

Administrators Begbies Traynor confirmed they were in talks with parties interested in the land.

The city's Greyhound Opening site is earmarked to remain empty until at least 2014, with 38 homes that year and another 38 the following year.

City Council leader Brenda Arthur last month said they were going back to the drawing board on the site, which made national headlines in 2008 after it emerged that council officers had moved into the sheltered accommodation vacated by elderly tenants ahead of the planned redevelopment.

The council had been working with registered social landlords to build homes on the site but government policy changes on grants and funding for social housing scuppered the scheme.

Bert Bremner, cabinet member for planning and transport at City Hall, said the five-year plan gave a good indication of what was likely to be achieved, adding: 'Norwich, like the rest of the country, is unfortunately not immune to the effects of the recession.'

South Norfolk Council has identified sites for homes beyond five years but some 600 homes could be stopped because of problems at Queen's Hills, Costessey.

The Evening News revealed last week how planning permission has been granted for 9,870 properties in the GNDP area which have yet to be built.

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