Work begins on social housing scheme at scandal-hit Greyhound Opening site

PUBLISHED: 17:16 19 January 2017 | UPDATED: 17:16 19 January 2017

Works starts on the Greyhound Opening housing site. Leader of Norwich City Council cllr Alan Waters and deputy leader cllr Gail Harris.

Works starts on the Greyhound Opening housing site. Leader of Norwich City Council cllr Alan Waters and deputy leader cllr Gail Harris. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Construction has at last begun at the site of the scandal-hit Greyhound Opening site - almost eight years since the former homes were demolished.

The estate made national news in 2008 after it emerged council staff had moved in, replacing elderly residents who had been convinced to leave.

Norwich City Council has awarded a contract to RG Carter to build 105 homes at Greyhound Opening and Goldsmith Street, between Old Palace Road and Dereham Road.

Grant Keys, regional director of RG Carter, said he hoped residents would be able to move in by May 2018.

“It has taken quite a long time to get to this stage because there has been a huge amount of design work and budget issues to overcome,” he said. “It is going to be pretty intense and we will have a lot of resources on the job, including some of our own apprentices. We will have in excess of 100 people here at peak times.
“This is one of the largest Passivhaus projects in the country. Essentially it gives you a superior user comfort using very low energy. It is incredibly airtight and some people who use it properly could see zero energy bills in a year.
“It is particularly unusual to use these for social rent homes because they usually come as a premium.”

Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said the homes would help achieve their target of building just under 300 affordable homes in the city.

“If we talk about building sustainable communities, this does that in a big way,” he said. “In this city the real need is for council housing with reasonable rents. One of the problems we have is with low incomes. 20,000 families in Norwich are on £15,000 a year or less.

“The need for this area is housing of the type we are building, and we need to build a lot more of them. We are pressing the government all the time for the resources to be able to do that.”

The dwellings will be for social rent, owned and managed by Norwich City Council. The overall design principle for the site will seek to recreate the terraced streets of Norwich.

As part of the development improvement works have already been carried out to the Midland Street green space. These include new paths for walking and cycling, installation of wooden play equipment and play tree, new seating, planting, removal of trees in poor health and planting of new ones.

History of the Greyhound Opening

Greyhound Opening made national headlines in 2008 after it emerged that, contrary to city council policy, council staff had moved into sheltered housing on the site, after elderly people who lived there moved out.

The pensioners who lived there and in nearby Goldsmith Street were being re-homed to make way for new houses.

While the council had agreed officers relocating to Norwich could go into the homes, so elderly people who had yet to move out would not feel isolated, it was against policy for other staff to move in.

It sparked a scandal at City Hall, with calls for an independent inquiry, and led to the sacking of Kristine Reeves, the council’s head of neighbourhood and strategic housing, who was among those who moved into the properties.

The homes were demolished in 2009.

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