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Local funds for homes in Thetford

PUBLISHED: 09:26 07 January 2010 | UPDATED: 21:51 07 July 2010

A PLAN to raid local funds used to build low cost homes in remote parts of Norfolk to pay for growth projects in Thetford, Norwich and King's Lynn was given the green light on Monday.

A PLAN to raid local funds used to build low cost homes in remote parts of Norfolk to pay for growth projects in Thetford, Norwich and King's Lynn was given the green light on Monday.

Norfolk County Council's ruling cabinet rubberstamped the move to use its share of cash raised from second homes council tax after the government announced a £2m switch from growth funding for the three areas last month to help pay for new affordable housing schemes.

Norfolk is due to get around £36m a year of government cash to help build low cost homes, dwarfing the sums raised locally, so the authority is keen to use the cash instead of helping to smooth the way for major schemes linked to improving transport links and helping deliver the infrastructure to cope with the growth such as updating the electricity grid and improving water abstraction and discharge systems.

Council tax raised on second homes is expected to raise £3.3m in 2009/10 but for the last five years funds have been shared, with half allocated to bids from local strategic partnerships based in district council areas, and the other half kept at a county level, but split between money to provide affordable housing, and other strategic initiatives.

The authority now wants to use its £1.1m share of unspent affordable homes money on a new infrastructure fund - though it has agreed to a £343,150 withdrawal by North Norfolk District Council which is working on an affordable homes plan.

But critics condemned plans as short-sighted because it would deprive communities with a longstanding need of cheap homes.

Marie Strong, Lib Dem councillor for Wells, said the new infrastructure fund was 'robbing Peter to pay Paul' and many areas already complained that they had yet to feel the benefit of the existing fund.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said the changes were justified because of the strategic need to tackle infrastructure problems across Norfolk and could also be used to help lever in more funds to help with major schemes earmarked in growth plans between now and 2031.

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