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Is Anglia Square’s 25-storey tower about to shrink?

PUBLISHED: 08:58 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:21 28 August 2018

A CGI image of the initial plans showing what Anglia Square could look like at night. Picture: Weston Homes

A CGI image of the initial plans showing what Anglia Square could look like at night. Picture: Weston Homes

Weston Homes

Developers behind the revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square could lodge revised plans within days, amid speculation the height of the scheme’s controversial tower might be cut.

Paul Burall, from the Norwich Society. Pic: Sonya Duncan.Paul Burall, from the Norwich Society. Pic: Sonya Duncan.

Housebuilder Weston Homes, along with landowner Columbia Threadneedle, had been given an extension by Norwich City Council over its bid for planning permission for the square’s transformation.

And there has been speculation, following an interview which Weston Homes’ managing director gave a national newspaper, that they could be ready to reduce the height of a 25-storey tower block on the site to 20 storeys.

The Anglia Square plans were lodged earlier this year and included up to 1,250 new homes, the tower, dozens of shops, a 200-bed hotel, 600-space car park and pedestrianised areas.

Consultation closed in May, with more than 350 comments lodged, many from members of the public who objected to the scale.

Historic England objected, saying three large blocks of up to 12 storeys and the 25-storey tower would be at odds with Norwich’s “unique heritage”, while the Council for British Archaeology raised similar concerns.

The past few months have seen the developers consider revisions to the scheme and Norwich City Council is expecting a resubmission any day now.

The developers have not commented ahead of the lodging of amendments.

But Weston’s managing director Bob Weston was recently quoted in The Guardian as saying his plans could “clear away 20 years of dereliction” but that he would “say thank you very much and walk away” if he could not secure planning permission.

Anglia Square.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYAnglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

With the height of the tower attracting much of the criticism, there has been speculation Weston Homes could propose a lower tower.

But Paul Burall, vice-chairman of civic watchdog the Norwich Society, which has been critical of the proposed development, said: “We are hoping that the ongoing delay means that there will be some serious changes. As far as we are concerned, knocking a few floors off the tower is nowhere near enough of a change.”

Amended plans are likely to trigger a further 30 days consultation. When the extension was agreed by the council and developers, a provisional date for it to come before the planning committee was set for October.

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLYAnglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

‘Alien’ tower has been bone of contention

The 25-storey tower, along with three large blocks of up to 12 storeys, have been the most contentious elements of the proposals for Anglia Square.

Historic England objected and signalled that, if Norwich City Council’s planning officers were to recommend that councillors approve the scheme, they would seek to get it called in by the government for a decision.

John Neale, Historic England planning director in the east, had said: “Norwich is one of the great historic cities of England and Europe. While Anglia Square is in need of redevelopment, a tower as tall as the cathedral would be alien and inappropriate.

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLYAnglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

“We believe plans for the square could be developed in a different way which would still unlock public benefits. Norwich deserves better.”

The developers said regeneration would transform the area and enhance the community, but have been considering amendments.

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