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Concerns over town council plans to borrow money to build 51 new homes in Swaffham

PUBLISHED: 17:31 22 October 2018

Councillor Shirley Matthews has expressed concerns about the Days Field housing plans. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Councillor Shirley Matthews has expressed concerns about the Days Field housing plans. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

Controversial plans for Swaffham Town Council to borrow money for a new 51-home development on Days Field have been met with concerns from local residents and have divided the town council.

The town council recently voted to seek the approval for the consent to borrow and apply for a Public Works Loan Board loan of up to £6 million but are currently discussing the scheme with the public to determine whether or not to apply.

Concerns over the plans were expressed by residents at a public meeting on Monday October 8 and further worries have since been voiced.

Swaffham Town councillor, Breckland District councillor and former Swaffham mayor Shirley Matthews said: “My personal opinion is that even though it could be a good investment for the town, building or selling houses is a speculative project.

“In these uncertain times, we are not to take the risk with public money.”

Swaffham resident and former town councillor David Wickerson said: “There was not enough information available in terms of the facts. The other concern is that the existing council might be making a decision to go ahead, then that is a decision that the new council, after the elections, would have to be saddled with for the next four years.”

David Cannon, another Swaffham resident and former town councillor, also said: “I don’t want a gamble. There would need to be more infrastructure to accommodate the housing.”

Ian Pilcher, who lives in Swaffham, added: “I do not think it is for the council to take this type of project on with the financial risk and lack of personal expertise.

However, mayor of Swaffham Colin Houghton insisted that the plans were at an early stage and that there is more work to be done before a final decision is taken.

He said: “We have made a commitment to the town that we won’t proceed with the plan unless the risk is absolutely minimal.

“We would employ the right sort of people to run it for us. We anticipate that 25pc of it will be social housing.

“I think it is within our capabilities to run this project with the right professional help.”

Another public meeting will be held at a later date yet to be confirmed.

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