A bid to save one of Norwich’s most historic homes and revamp a derelict area of the river has been scuppered by planning rules.

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The Norwich Preservation Trust hoped to save the former home of the Dukes of Norfolk, Howard House, near Dragon Hall on King Street, by converting it into homes.

Under the plans, Howard House would be given to the trust by the administrators, who have held the house and land around it – St Anne’s Wharf – since City Living Developments, who owned it, collapsed.

But to convert Howard House, the trust needed a strip of land on King Street to provide parking and room for bins.

It is understood that when Norwich City Council was asked if the trust could use the extra land, planners said it would affect the entire planning application for the area, which includes the redevelopment of St Anne’s Wharf.

Without the planning application, the value of the land, which the administrators want to sell, would collapse, meaning the site remains in a two-decade long deadlock.

Cabinet member for planning at the city council, Bert Bremner, who is also a member of the trust, said there was little the council could do and blamed the lack of progress on the property market.

He said: “The value of the land has collapsed compared with the price originally paid.

“We think there is a real opportunity to get the large St Anne’s Wharf site and Howard House developed.

“It will be great to get Howard House finally brought back to its true glory, but the city has to think far bigger than one wonderful building and get the most benefit for homes and jobs for the city, and get Howard House sorted at the same time.”

The planning permission proposed 437 apartments on the five-acre site between King Street and the River Wensum.

Vicky Manthorpe from civic watchdog the Norwich Society described the deadlock as “one of the biggest heritage scandals in Norwich for the last two decades”.

She said: “Despite many pleas by the Norwich Society to preserve and restore Howard House, the city council has always refused to issue either repair orders or a compulsory purchase order to the successive owners.”

But Mr Bremner said compulsory purchase orders were far too expensive for the council to issue.

Ms Manthorpe said the society was frustrated because the extra land on King Street needed for parking and bins was included in an earlier site boundary for Howard House.

She said: “We would argue that a future developer is highly unlikely to proceed on the basis of the existing plan and permissions – following changes in the city housing market the mix of housing in the present plan is completely out of date.

“Secondly, it would be a distinct financial benefit to any development company to have Howard House removed from its responsibility.”

Administrators Begbies Traynor declined to comment.

15 comments

  • I was very pleased to see on Friday last contractors clearing away the massive overgrowtrhs of Buddleia and other vegetation that are ruining Howard House and the appearance of King Street. While agreeing very much with Daisy Roots and others below, I feel we should not get too carried away with nostalgia over the St Ann's Wharf site. Not too long ago it was occupied by one of the ugliest and most intrusive buildings on the southern riverside: the former brewery stores and depot which completely ruined the streetscape of King Street and was a disgraceful affront to both Howard House and Dragon Hall. At least that has all been swept away now and a peaceful site of increasing natural history and archaeological interest lies behind the hoardings. Unfortunately the new scheme for the site was a monstrosity and is indeed completely out of touch with today's housing requirements. The notion that that scheme could proceed is ludicrous so something else needs to be done that would respect the character and history of King Street. With due respect to the denigrators of Hopkins Homes, their King Street Quarter housing development is a model of restrained intervention in an area of great architectural and historical interest. It might be labelled a neo-Georgian pastiche but it has blended in so well with the grain and texture of King Street, and has so many references to the medieval street patterns and courtyards, that a similar development on the other side of the road would be a very appealing prospect.

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    JCW

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • I don't believe 437 unit development on the 5 acre site was well thought out and will have a greatly diminishing effect on the street scape, no matter what the design is.

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    kenneth jessett

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

  • Norwich City Council in its various political incarnations has done more damage to our fine city since the war than the Luftwaffe. Do we really want another 437 riverside apartments? The development of Riverside generally has been a complete disaster. Ugly chavy buildings with no historical or aesthetic sensitivity.

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    Ne Absiste

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • The Inner Link Road !! who will stand up and be counted ? so much hetitage destroyed

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    Albert Cooper

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • A solution must be found soon before squatters get in or someone steals or damages the magnificent 16th century staircase within. Remember the Tudor Hall just around the corner where a squatter was murdered and set on fire?

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    oldowl

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • I can understand that the plans developed and approved would have cost tens of thousands of pounds and are an asset to the administrators. But Howard House may not be an asset to them due to the strict controls on development and poor return probable loss on making it good. So here is the perfect solution presented by the Norwich Society if the Planning Department can swing it to vary the plans. I'm not too sure if compulsary purchase is too expensive for a city of a quarter of a million souls. Just how much is it? A feel there is more to this story. I think the loss of many fine old buildings has to be seen in the context of the 1960s and 70s where Brutalist concrete Commie Blocks and punching roads through communities was thought to be the best solution for everyone. It was countries that were less progressive who have the last laugh now though as we can whizz round them in comfortable trams gazing on their medieval splendour.

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    oldowl

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • I assume that if a few feet of land is lopped off the development site for Howard House amenities , it will lose planning permission , and have to start again from scratch , because it wouldn`t be the same piece of land from a legal point of view , only 99.9 % of it .

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    dragonfly

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

  • Churchill: "We'll fight them on the beaches, we'll fight them in the trenches..." Functionary: "Hold on, you can't do that, there's a health and safety issue".

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    kenneth jessett

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • I blame the Labour controlled councils over the years for the horrible destruction of our historic treasures. Like that nasty little socialist freak, Manny Shinwell, they think anything good in Britain must have belonged to the ruling classes.

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    kenneth jessett

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • Well UNSCUPPER it...ridiculous objections of an area for bins.....please !!!

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    Albert Cooper

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • it is quite clear that the council Norwich and Norfolk are out for financial gain! Why not sell the land and get more affordable homes in to the system and get families in the area and not rats. Or is it because Hopkin Homes isn't building it? THAT is a connection that needs looking at!

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    Ron Luton-Brown

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • Why is a compulsory purchase order too expensive ? The City Council must employ people with the legal training to do the job . They would soon use compulsory purchase on an ordinary person`s home if it stood in the way of a road widening scheme . Look how many they did this to when Grape`s Hill was enlarged , many only got site value .

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    dragonfly

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • What's the story behind the buildings next to Dragon Hall? They need alot of work too....

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    oldowl

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

  • Absolutely typical the the City Fathers. Successive administrations, since the wrecking days of the late 60's and 70's (Magdalen Street, St Stephens,Chapelfield - almost no part of the City undamaged by these vandals) have gone out of their way to turn "A Fine City" into a clone city, with its 1500 years of history cast away through ignorance, greed or misplaced social engineering.

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    T Doff

    Monday, October 15, 2012

  • Well said both. Norwich, King's Lynn and Yarmouth councils have destroyed our heritage with planning vandalism-lovely old buildings and streets which tourists would have loved and homes which could have been renovated were destroyed just so developers could make an easy buck and their good friends in the planning departments pad out their CVs. With a little patience they could have been saved because just a few decades later along came out of town shopping-something planners should learn by. One wonders whose pet project is the latest in Norwich and whether there is really a demand for so many apartments. I heard that many on Riverside are let to students and one is tempted to say if the UEA and Norwich university of the arts were obliged to build accommodation for all of their students then there would be a good number of family houses made available again in Norwich for full time occupancy. Remember this-at one time Norwich City Council was all for pulling down Elm Hill. As well as the above they are allowing fine Georgian and Victorian properties to fall into disrepair or to be isolated by adjoining developments and then their importance to the street scape downgraded so they end up demolished or redeveloped out of recognition. So slowly our Norfolk style city disappears.

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, October 15, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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