What Anglia Square could look like if redevelopment given green light
PUBLISHED: 08:11 10 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:35 10 February 2018
The chief executive of Weston Homes says he is committed to redeveloping Norwich’s Anglia Square.
Bob Weston told Norwich city councillors this week that the multi-million pound scheme “will happen”, subject to planning permission.
Working with the investment firm Columbia Threadneedle, Weston Homes is proposing to demolish the existing shopping centre, along with the neighbouring Sovereign House.
The buildings will be replaced with more than 1,200 new homes, a new leisure quarter, a 200-bed hotel, multi-storey car park and a new home for Surrey Chapel.
Also included in the plans is a 25-storey tower block and replacement cinema.
The project’s development team revealed further details about the proposal to Norwich City Council at an informal meeting on Thursday.
Overall, the scheme will cover a 1.2million sq ft site.
Mr Weston said his company has a “track record” of delivering large-scale developments and was currently working on several similar projects, including the Fletton Quays scheme in Peterborough.
He said: “We are two years in [with Anglia Square], and we have spent a considerable sum of money to get this far. We will commit hundreds of millions of pounds in the delivery of it. But we are focussed to do just that, deliver it.”
Mr Weston said the development will take at least six years to complete, but added it was in the company’s interest to get it built “as quick as possible”.
“The longer it takes, the more it costs,” he added.
Earlier in February, Norwich City Council was awarded £12m in government funding to help get the Anglia Square scheme off the ground.
When asked how important the funding was, Mr Weston said without it, the development “probably” would not happen.
“The viability of the projects sits right on a knife edge,” he said. “And it does not take more than one or two elements to throw it off track.”
Mr Weston said there was a legal agreement between his firm and Columbia Threadneedle to ensure it gets built.
Weston Homes will submit a planning application the city council at the end of this month (February), followed by a public exhibition.
Rooftop bar and restaurant
Councillors were told the Anglia Square development aims to “compliment rather than compete” with the Norwich city centre.
John Percy, from Cushman & Wakefield, said the new retail area would be split into two squares, with one focussed on leisure and the other on shopping.
He said it would include a mix of independent and national chain restaurants and retail outlets, as well as a seven-screen cinema.
He said the leisure area would be “much smaller” than the Chapelfield and Castle Mall shopping centres.
Architect Peter Vaughan, from Broadway Malyan, said the scheme would “unlock” views of Norwich Cathedral’s spire from St Augustine’s Street due to the removal of Sovereign House. It would also include four acres of private residential amenity space.
In response to a question about a roof-top viewing platform, Bob Weston said the proposed hotel would be “inverted”, in that the bar and restaurant would be on the top floor.
Not so glorious history of planning in Anglia Square
The city council’s head of planning, Graham Nelson, told the meeting there was a “long and not particularly glorious history” of planning in Anglia Square.
He told members a lot of planning effort had gone into the site, but it had not been followed by any development.
“The history of Anglia Square will tell you that the devil will be in the viability and deliverability [of the scheme] and whether anything may actually happen here,” Mr Nelson said.
He said it had been a “great priority” of the city council to secure the regeneration of the site every since Her Majesty’s Stationery Office pulled out of Sovereign House, which has been derelict for 20 years.
Mr Nelson said planning consent was granted to two supermarket-led redevelopment schemes in 2010 and 2011, but they never came to fruition.
“All that happened as a result of those consents being issued was the new gyratory road,” he added.
Affordable homes and development phases
Bob Weston said the project team was making a commitment of 120 affordable homes, just 10pc of the overall scheme and far below Norwich City Council’s 33pc policy.
But he said the figure was a minimum and as each detailed application came through the viability of affordable homes would be reassessed.
Mr Weston said the first phase of development would include the new multi-storey car park, which will include a retail element on the ground flood.
He said it is hoped some of the “key tenants” of Anglia Square will be moved into the units.
John Percy said organisations have been asked to look at temporary for Anglia Square as construction gets underway, as there is a risk shoppers could turn their backs on the area as long-term tenants leave.
He said it could become home to temporary art installations, pop up markets and cinemas.