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‘Extremely poor weather conditions’ delay progress on two major housing schemes

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Two major housing developments being built in West Norfolk towns have been beset by months of problems caused by “extremely poor weather conditions”.A report to West Norfolk Council has revealed the challenges faced at the Florence Fields site in Gaywood and the Southend Road scheme in Hunstanton.The weather has threatened to delay progress at the sites that aim to deliver more than 250 properties, including several affordable homes and private rental properties.

Florence Fields will be built next to the Lynn Academy site on Queen Mary Road/Parkway, Gaywood

Both are backed by West Norfolk Council funding and are being built by Lovell Homes.Florence Fields, which became waterlogged following Storm Babet in October last year and continues to endure problems, has faced additional issues due to a collapsed Network Rail culvert, which has disrupted the flow of surface water.Alistair Beales, cabinet member for business, told the council in a report that while the first bricks have been laid, ground conditions and extremely poor weather continue to “challenge progress” and he warned a long-term resolution is needed to be found in the coming weeks to avoid delays.

Cllr Alistair Beales

The scheme has also faced rising costs and required the council to increase its budget from £48.3m to £54.4m.Flooding concerns had threatened to derail the project entirely, with the Environment Agency (EA) opposing it at the initial planning stage along with several locals also raising fears it could be at a high risk of flooding. The site is within the EA level 3 flood zone area.However, improved flood mitigation measures were subsequently agreed to protect the site.Building work is in its final stages at Southend Road in Hunstanton. However, Mr Beales has described it as a “complex and challenging build” as weather has limited progress, with high winds hampering the installation of roofs at the start of the year although it is now near completion.

An artist’s impression of the new homes on Southend Road in Hunstanton. Picture: West Norfolk Council
The site on Southend Road in Hunstanton in March 2023. Picture: Google Maps

The development is now expected to be completed by the late summer.Michael Saunders, operations manager at Lovell, and James Grant, project manager at West Norfolk Council, have said in a joint statement: “Both autumn and winter were exceptionally wet with record levels of rainfall in West Norfolk.“The weather created very challenging ground conditions, which inevitably caused some delays at both Southend Road and Florence Fields.“However, our positive and proactive approach to managing water on the sites meant we were still able to carry on operating and we continue to work in partnership to make progress on the developments.”

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