The first sod has been turned on the site of a £9.7 million affordable housing scheme which will create 73 new homes in mid Norfolk.

To be called Tower Mill, new estate will be on land to the north of North Pickenham Road in Necton - between Dereham and Swaffham.

The building is being done by Durham-based Partner Construction on behalf of Housing Association Flagship Homes. All of the new dwellings will be either for shared ownership or affordable rent.

Frank Lincoln, Partner Construction's regional managing director, said at a ground-breaking ceremony: “We are delighted to have started building at Tower Mill.

“We pride ourselves on supporting people with our affordable homes and employing a workforce on site that will be made up of local labour and contractors.

"We are determined to ensure that the housing market better serves young first-time buyers and families on low to average incomes.”

Tony Tann, Flagship's managing director, said the name Tower Mill was chosen as a nod to a former mill with the same name in the village, which was once five storeys high.

The one-storey remnant of the mill is still there in Mill Street, next to a pub and restaurant called The Windmill.

Mr Tann said: "We feel that this is a great starting point in the process of integrating this new development with the existing community.

"In addition, the beautiful rural location and open space is to be respected with landscaping plans already in pace, to ensure the scheme is in keeping with the surrounding area.”

The new homes are due to be completed in early 2024.

They will be in semi-detached blocks spread around the site facing onto two cu-de-sacs, with the estate entrance off North Pickenham Road.

There will be a mix of two-bedroom bungalows, one-bedroom walk-up flats and two, three and four-bedroom houses.

Homes England, a government body funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, is helping to pay for the project.

Mr Tann said: “The housing provision being created here in Necton will ensure that many local people and families will have access to quality affordable housing."