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Former BHS store could provide pedestrian link to Norwich’s bus station

The former BHS and Aviva buildings in St Stephens Street, Norwich.
 Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The former BHS and Aviva buildings in St Stephens Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

A link which would enable pedestrians to get to Norwich’s bus station via St Stephens Street could be created through the former BHS store.

An artist's impression of what the revamped St Stephens Towers could look like. Pic: Crown Student Living.An artist's impression of what the revamped St Stephens Towers could look like. Pic: Crown Student Living.

Norwich City Council bosses have long wanted a direct link to the Surrey Street bus station from one of the city centre’s main shopping streets.

At the moment, people can only get to the bus station via Surrey Street or Queens Road.

So, City Hall officers highlighted a desire for such a link in the St Stephens Masterplan - a blueprint for how the area should be developed.

As reported, plans have been lodged with the city council to turn the former Aviva towers in St Stephens Street into homes for 740 students.

Developer Crown Student Living wants to refurbish the towers, which have stood empty for eight years, so that students from the University of East Anglia and the Norwich University of Arts can live there.

A link to the towers from the bus station is planned and, as part of the proposals, the developers looked at whether a purpose built walkway through from the bus station to St Stephens Street could be provided. But they have concluded it was neither viable or feasible.

However, Aviva Investors, who sold the site to Crown Student Living, have agreed to invest money into the empty store formerly occupied by BHS - which could create a route. That is because BHS has a back door which would link through to the bus station.

Documents lodged with Norwich City Council, seeking permission to upgrade the rear access of the former store and to provide new signs, state: “Currently the unit is not open but it is being marketed and negotiations with potential occupiers are ongoing.

“Part of the negotiations to secure a tenant includes highlighting the benefits of this access arrangement and the footfall which could be generated from it, via the bus station and the student population in the towers.

“It is considered that this access, and the potential custom stream from it, will be seen as a major benefit of the lease and the operation of the unit.”

• Would you welcome such a link? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPletters@archant.co.uk

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