Chairman’s change of mind sees controversial Castle Mall design approved at third attempt

The revised plan for the Back Of The Inns entrance to Norwich's Castle Mall. The revised plan for the Back Of The Inns entrance to Norwich's Castle Mall.

Thursday, March 6, 2014
2:35 PM

A revamp of the main entrance to Norwich’s Castle Mall has been approved at the third attempt - in highly unusual circumstances.

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The centre’s owners had lodged the revised scheme with Norwich City Council after city councillors deferred a decision on a previous proposal in December.

April 2013: Revamp of Castle Mall in Norwich revealed
December 2013: Decision on proposed facelift to Castle Mall deferred

Members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee voted five to refuse and five to approve, with two abstentions.

That left the casting vote with planning committee chairman David Bradford, who just minutes before had voted to refuse it.

He “reluctantly” used his casting vote to vote for the application, despite his personal dislike of elements of the scheme.

It was the third attempt to revamp the Back of the Inns entrance, with the first scheme rejected last summer for being out of character with the area.

The developers said the new design took its cue from the city’s textiles industry.

Paul McCarthy, centre manager for Castle Mall, said the revamp was needed to help the centre stay competitive and would be part of further investment.

He said the shopping centre, home to 870 jobs, needed to send a message to existing and potential occupants that it was keen to improve.

Julia Bunting, planning consultant for centre owners InfraRed Capital Partners said the revamp would help put Castle Mall on the map.

But Michael Innes, the original architect of Castle Mall had urged the committee to reject the scheme.

He said the design was not innovative, but derivative, and had put forward an alternative plan, which had not been taken on board.

And David Ford, from the Norwich Society, said: “The proposals do not achieve the sensitivity or subtlety needed in this location.”

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