Region: East of England
Local Authority: Norwich
Owner Type: Housing Association
Summary: Norwich Broadland Housing Association Programme- Listed buildings have been restored for the triple motives of preserving historic architecture, providing high quality affordable homes and leading regeneration of Norwich.
Description: Norwich, described by its own planners as ‘England’s Florence in medieval times’, has been a regional center since William the Conqueror confirmed this in place of Thetford. It achieved particular wealth between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, and its thirteenth century town walls surrounded an area larger than any other English medieval town.
Issue: Norwich is still a commercial center of regional importance with an immense stock of historic buildings, however in recent years economic decline has brought problems. In some popular holiday areas local people have found it difficult to find a home.
Strategy: Regeneration through heritage is now seen as a key element in making the town attractive in every way. Broadland Housing Association has been rehabilitating historic buildings for social housing in central Norwich since 1968. Dilapidated or threatened buildings are sometimes acquired commercially or, more commonly, are passed to them by the county council or other statutory bodies as part of a planning deal on larger developments.
Outcome: Listed buildings have been restored for the triple motives of preserving historic architecture, providing high quality affordable homes and leading the forces of regeneration, mostly in urban areas. There are a number of successful case studies, including The Elms, Uthank Road and fishermen’s cottages at Cley, North Norfolk (pictured above). The Elms was a model housing scheme built by Mackintosh Housing Society for workers in their chocolate factory and was transferred to Broadland Housing Association in 1996. In addition to attractively designed houses the scheme included a social center, huge communal gardens and green areas, and a bowling green, amenities still actively used by the residents. When adopted there was a complete internal refit of all houses but outside appearances were carefully maintained. Faithful maintenance of the best values of Victorian philanthropy therefore provides affordable rented accommodation in a leafy traffic free area within walking distance of central Norwich.
© The Housing Corporation, English Heritage, Institute Field Archaeologists