Council plans levy on newly-built homes

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West Norfolk Council officials have revealed they are considering introducing a levy on new homes to help fund ways of minimising the environmental impact of house building.

The move is one of several measures being looked at by the authority to address the concerns that halted an inquiry into its blueprint for future development on its first day last month.

Further work to address issues relating to flooding and whether the framework can be delivered is also being undertaken.

And the ideas have been welcomed by the inspector appointed to examine its future development proposals.

In a letter to the council, inspector David Hogger said: “The council’s approach appears to be appropriate.”

The council’s framework is designed to set out where the 6,500 new homes the authority says are needed in the borough by 2026 should be built.

But one of the key issues that caused the public inquiry to be adjourned in July was whether adequate environmental measures could be secured to mitigate the effects of the additional development.

Although the council claims it believed its plans had the support of environmental groups prior to the hearing, officers have now drawn up new plans which they hope will resolve the issue.

A report will be presented to the council’s ruling cabinet in September to set out plans to impose a £50 levy on new properties, which officials say is in line with similar charges imposed by other districts in the county.

Alan Gomm, the authority’s local development framework manager, said the main concern was about the impact on sites such as Roydon Common and the Wash which are recognised as internationally significant.

He said: “What we’re trying to do is get some flexibility.”

If the plan is approved, a working group would be set up to look at where the money generated should be spent.

Meanwhile, the authority is set to review proposals to introduce a community infrastructure levy on new developments this autumn and draw up a draft schedule for its implementation.

Officials are also drawing up a list of sites which have been included in the plan despite being deemed to be at risk of flooding and contingency plans if home numbers in those areas have to be reduced.

And sites which were not included in the final framework will be looked at again in order to address concerns about whether the framework, and particularly the assessed requirement for around two-thirds of the new homes to be built in the greater Lynn area, can be delivered if some sites are not made available.

One such area is the Lynnsport 2 site, which was removed from major housing plans for that area by council chiefs earlier this year, following sustained opposition from local residents.

Mr Gomm said the council hopes that hearings on the framework will resume in late September or early October.