New homes on the site of Britain's longest-running squat are finally a step closer to development, almost a decade after properties were demolished.

Planning permission for 14 new houses in Argyle Street, off Rouen Road, was granted by Norwich City Council last summer. 

It is famed for the 'Battle of Argyle Street', which saw a community of squatters forcibly evicted from the site in the 1980s.

City Hall is now set to award the contract for the new homes to Marfleet and Blyth Limited, meaning that the project could be under way soon. 

Norwich Evening News: An artist's impression of how the new homes in Argyle Street in Norwich could lookAn artist's impression of how the new homes in Argyle Street in Norwich could look (Image: WT Design)Argyle Street was occupied by squatters from the late 1970s until 1985, before its original homes were demolished and new properties built in their places.

However, some of these lasted only a few decades and were knocked down in 2015, after they began to sink into the ground and cracks formed in the walls.

The council moved its tenants out of some of its properties - 16 flats and three bungalows - in 2009, after tests showed the buildings were at risk of subsidence.

But despite these challenges, the authority plans to rebuild on the site.

Surveys have established that chalk tunnels, dug for mining, run under the site, but experts are confident they can build homes there.

Norwich Evening News: An overgrown, boarded up and fenced off house in Argyle Street. Pictured in 2014, before the demolitionAn overgrown, boarded up and fenced off house in Argyle Street. Pictured in 2014, before the demolition (Image: Archant)READ MORE: Way paved for 45,000 new homes for Norfolk

Marfleet and Blyth Limited were the only contractors to bid for the development, due to the complexity of the site, its ground conditions and city centre location.

Norwich City Council ringfenced a budget of nearly £4m for the project last year, which would see the construction of six flats and eight houses.

All of the properties would be available for social rent from the council, which will decide whether to award the contract at a meeting next week.


What was the Republic of Argyle Street?

Argyle Street made national headlines at the end of the 1970s, as it became home to Britain's longest-running squat.

The majority of terraced houses in the King Street and Ber Street area had been demolished in a radical 1950s city council clearance scheme.

The University of East Anglia was set to buy the remaining terraces, such as those in Argyle Street, from Norwich City Council for student housing, but these plans fell through. 

More than 100 squatters moved in to the empty homes in 1979, forming a co-operative.

It became a place of shared living and communal spirit where lamp posts were decorated as giraffes and pavements were painted with rainbows and peace signs.

The squatters even applied for grant funding to renovate the area.

But ambitions were shattered after the council's plans to lease or sell the houses to the community were blocked. 

In 1985, the so-called 'Republic of Argyle Street' members were evicted and bulldozers quickly demolished the homes, with new properties built in their places.

Norwich Evening News: The first house demolished after the 1985 evictionsThe first house demolished after the 1985 evictions (Image: Archant)Many of these only lasted 30 years before being knocked down in 2015, with some boarded up for years before demolition.

Tenants who were moved out were eligible for home-loss payments of around £5,000 to £6,000.