West Norfolk Council set to impose £50 green levy on new homes

Views of King's Lynn''The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn''The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right. ENGANL00120130322090456
Views of King's Lynn''The view of Chapel Street with the Junction of Austin Street King's Lynn''The King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Office is the building on the left, with the Lattice House Pub further down on the right. ENGANL00120130322090456

Proposals to charge a £50 levy on new homes in West Norfolk to help maintain green spaces will be debated by councillors next week.

The scheme is part of a series of measures designed to address concerns about the borough council’s blueprint for future housing development.

The document, which will go before a council committee meeting next Wednesday, also proposes reinstating land in West Winch that had previously been excluded from development plans following local opposition.

The new measures have been drawn up after an inquiry into the authority’s proposed allocation of housing developments over the next decade was halted on its first day last month.

The council envisages that around 6,500 new homes will be needed across the borough between now and 2026, of which about two thirds are proposed for Lynn and immediate surrounding areas.

But the inquiry was stopped in July amid fears that the environmental impact of the proposals being implemented had not been properly assessed.

Planning inspector David Hogger then asked for more information about how the council intended to address the issues.

Now, officers have drawn up a new mitigation and monitoring strategy, including the introduction of a habitat mitigation levy, set at £50 per property, on new housing.

It also proposes that a new panel should be set up to decide how and where the money generated from the levy is spent.

The group would be chaired by a member of the council’s ruling cabinet and include representatives from organisations including Natural England and the RSPB.

In a report published this week, Alan Gomm, the council’s local development framework manager, said: “We consider that the approach and detailed changes provide a pragmatic response and display sufficient flexibility in response to the Inspector’s questions.”

He also suggested the levy would have “minimal” impact on development.

During a media briefing session earlier this month, officials confirmed they would review sites that were not included in the framework documents in a bid to show that the proposed number of homes, particularly in Lynn and surrounding areas, could be achieved.

One such area that could be reinstated under the latest proposals is a site adjacent to Gravel Hill in West Winch.

The report says the land was excluded from the framework proposals in 2013, following opposition from nearby residents and one of their then ward councillors.

But the land’s owners, Zurich Assurance Ltd, claimed the site is critical for enabling the construction of a new relief road and other infrastructure needed to sustain the 1,600 homes envisaged in the area.

They also argued that removing the site threatened the viability of the entire scheme.

Mr Gomm said a new assessment of the site had been carried out in response to the owner’s arguments.

He added: “This identifies a broadly positive scoring for the site’s inclusion.”

The authority hopes that hearings on the framework plans will resume in late September.