Plan to start second phase of King’s Lynn housing scheme is approved

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Affordable homes should still be built as part of a major Lynn development project, even though it could be seen as not financially viable to do so, council leaders have claimed.

Plans to start work on the second phase of the Nar Ouse Regeneration Area (NORA) project were approved by West Norfolk Council’s cabinet on Tuesday, despite a report showing increased costs.

Documents which were published ahead of the meeting showed the cost of the second phase had risen by more than £1 million to almost £10.5 million.

And regeneration portfolio holder Alistair Beales said the authority could pursue several options in relation to the scheme, including abandoning it altogether.

Another alternative was to enhance the financial return for taxpayers by arguing that affordable housing proposed as part of the scheme was no longer viable.

He said: “On a commercial basis, that’s a perfectly valid argument but given this is a council scheme, I believe we should deliver that housing.

“If we can deliver it, it seems sensible to me that we should do so.”

The meeting was told that the council would have to accept reduced receipts of £625,000, though Mr Beales said the amount generated was “still significant.”

The council would also retain a share in seven of the nine affordable homes built, initially valued at £320,000, under a shared equity programme.

The other two would be made available for rent.

Mr Beales said the initial stage of the project had been popular, with only 12 of the 54 homes built still available.

He said: “Phase one has regenerated an extremely difficult site. It was heavily contamnated, has been cleaned up and 42 units are sold with a number of them exchanged.”

Leader Nick Daubney added: “I think we’ve seen from work so far this has been a win-win all round.

“We’ve got attractive homes, we’ve regenerated an area. We’ve overcome challenges and difficulties but these homes are proving to be in considerable demand.

“It’s entirely the direction this council should have gone in.”