Affordable homes cash will make developments ‘easier’, claims West Norfolk councillor

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Plans to collect financial contributions for affordable housing on small developments will make it easier for builders to plan their projects, a councillor has claimed.

Members of West Norfolk Council’s cabinet approved the idea at a meeting on Tuesday, though it still has to go before the full council later this month before it can be implemented.

Under new rules introduced by the government last month, developers are only obliged to provide affordable housing in their schemes where 11 or more homes are proposed.

However, as a designated rural authority, West Norfolk has the option of introducing a lower threshold, requiring builders to provide a financial contribution towards affordable housing on developments of between six and 10 units.

Adrian Lawrence, portfolio holder for housing, said the borough was “fortunate” to have the choice, which is not open to many district councils.

He said: “By doing this, we will be helping developers in as much as they know they have to submit a cash sum rather than whether they’ve got to surrender a property which made them rather unsure of cash flows.”

If ratified by the full council, which meets on January 29, the lower threshold will apply in 95 out of the borough’s 101 parishes.

The only areas it would not apply will be in the towns of Lynn, Hunstanton, Downham, plus the villages of Dersingham, Heacham, South Wootton and Terrington St Clement.

Labour councillor Jim Moriarty said concerns had been raised over where the cash raised through the plan would be spent.

However, he added that members of the council’s regeneration, environment and community panel, who examined the scheme last week, were in support.

The meeting was told that money raised by the scheme would be ringfenced.