New homes for Norwich in doubt

Sam WilliamsPlans for hundreds of new homes on a prime Norwich site have been left up in the air after the company behind them went into administration.Sam Williams

Plans for hundreds of new homes on a prime city site have been left up in the air after the company behind them went into administration.

City Living Developments (Norwich), which planned to build about 400 properties at St Anne's Wharf, called in administrators Begbies Traynor after encountering financial difficulties late last month.

The news casts doubt over the future of the five-acre site, on the bank of the River Wensum between King Street and Riverside, which is seen as one of several key locations to deliver thousands of new homes planned for the city in the coming years.

In addition to the 400 apartments and townhouses, the �120m proposals also include plans for commercial, leisure and retail space and a possible hotel.

Two sister companies - City Living Homes and Anglia Projects & Developments - have also gone into administration.

The move is the latest in a long line of setbacks for the redevelopment of St Anne's Wharf, the site of the former Norwich Brewery building.

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Plans to build homes on the site date back to the mid 1990s, but have been held up by several changes in ownership and a dispute over the number of affordable homes in the development.

Despite repeated calls, no one at administrators Begbies Traynor was available for comment on the reasons for the financial problems at the companies, the future of the development or how many jobs could be at risk.

It is also unclear how the move into administration affects occupants of the firms' other properties at Paper Mill Yard off King Street, or Samson and Hercules House in Tombland, which has been converted into 17 homes.

But Steve Morphew, leader of Norwich City Council, said he remained confident the St Anne's Wharf development would go ahead despite the blow.

He said: 'This is a worrying development and we are now trying to get hold of the administrators to find out what their plans are.

'This is an important area of potential jobs, homes and prosperity for the city.

'In time there is no doubt it will get developed because it is a prime site, but we could do with the jobs the con-struction would create now.'

And he warned the delay to the development and others, such as the redevelopment of Anglia Square, which re-main on hold, could leave people struggling to get on the housing ladder in future years.

He added: 'If the homes are not going to be there for families to live in, this will put pressure on the housing mar-ket once demand increases.

'This would push up prices and put properties beyond the reach of many more people.'

The news follows concerns last week over the future of several developments - including St Anne's Wharf - ear-marked for cash from the Homes and Communities Agency, set up to spur housing developments in the recession, after the HCA put funding for new projects on hold until the emergency budget on June 22.