MP Henry Bellingham is calling for a Government re-think on housing needs after having his eyes opened to the potential space for homes above shops in Lynn town centre.
On Friday, he was shown nine buildings in High Street, Norfolk Street, Purfleet Quay and Purfleet Street that Lynn Civic Society has earmarked as having spare space for town flats and apartments.
And after the tour, with civic society chairman Alison Gifford and members Liz James and Helen Russell-Johnson, the North West Norfolk MP said: “I think there is the potential to house at least 100 people in the town centre.
“I will write to Mark Prisk, the housing minister, on this because the Government need to launch a major public initiative with landlords to look at better utilisation of these buildings. There’s an untapped resource here that we really do have to galvanise and inject some life into.
“There are two million people on the housing waiting list nationally and the Government is under pressure to build on greenfield sites and, while I accept there will always be some development on these sites, our first priority should be to go on brownfield sites then use existing space in town centres.”
The MP said another good reason for having more people living in the high streets is that it would provide a natural check against incidents of anti-social behaviour there, as these residents would be alerting the police and wanting something done about it.
He said: “The vast majority of these shops in High Street have flats above them where, in older days, the owners often lived. We need to have a look at far-reaching initiatives here and putting life back into the high streets on a 24-hour basis.”
Mr Bellingham intends to contact West Norfolk Council and Freebridge Community Housing to discuss the potential, and he has a meeting with Freebridge chief executive Tony Hall tomorrow. He also hopes to explore the issue with Lynn’s town centre manager.
○ See where the homes might go in Friday’s Lynn News.