Claim that £3 million for affordable housing potentially lost in Norwich in just six months
A Green Party county councillor has voiced concerns that Norwich may be losing out on money for affordable housing because developers are providing misleading estimates of the level of profit their schemes can make.
Councillor Andrew Boswell will ask Norwich City Council at its meeting this evening to develop tighter rules for developers to ensure that they provide affordable housing in new developments.
Cllr Boswell said “In Norwich, developers should be providing 33% affordable housing on sites of 10 new homes or more. However, they can avoid this obligation if they submit a financial viability assessment showing that the development would not make enough profit if it included affordable housing. Across the country, there is now rising concern that these assessments often deliberately underestimate the value of buildings and overestimate the costs of a project”.
Research by Green councillors shows that in Norwich, in the six-month period since March, three applications recommended for approval by planning officers have allowed no affordable homes. Together this equates to the loss of 33 affordable homes to the community, and an estimated loss of £3 million pounds for affordable housing.
Councillor Boswell said: “It is now time for the Council to make sure that developers aren’t using financial viability to play fast and loose with affordable housing. The Council needs to have stronger rules for assessing viability assessments, and a more robust system of appraisal.
“It is nothing short of a national scandal that many millions of pounds for affordable homes are lost annually due to this flaw in the planning system. In Norwich, up to £3m may have been lost in just a six-month period.”
Among planning permissions highlighted by the Green Party is the site of the former Ferryboat Inn on King Street. This was given permission for a 41 unit development, including a tower block next to the Novi Sad bridge. The owners of this site are reported to have bought the former pub site for between £500,000 and £600,000 but having received planning permission from the City Council they are now offering the site for sale through Saville estate agent for a ‘guide price’ of £1,500,000. This immediate profit could help to build a number of affordable homes.
The Council meets this evening (Tuesday 27th September) in City Hall, members of the public are welcome to attend.