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Historic Norwich city centre building, empty for 25 years, could become flats

09:23 11 March 2016

Castle House in Norwich, which may be turned into flats. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Castle House in Norwich, which may be turned into flats. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

New life could finally be breathed into an historic building which has stood empty in Norwich city centre for more than 25 years.

An artist's impression of what Castle House could look like if it is turned into flats. Pic: Submitted.An artist's impression of what Castle House could look like if it is turned into flats. Pic: Submitted.

Developers have put forward plans to convert the upper floors of Castle House, a six-storey building between Castle Meadow and Castle Street, into more than two dozen new homes.

The application to convert the long-vacant offices has been lodged with Norwich City Council by TH Real Estate.

If the scheme gets the go-ahead from City Hall, it would see the facades of the building, which is locally-listed, refurbished, with new multi-pane windows installed.

Solar panels on the roof of the 19th century building would provide 10pc of the energy supplied to the 25 new flats, while there would be cycle storage for more than 40 bicycles.

The development would not affect the retail units beneath, which include Maplin and Dr Martens.

James Tibbles, development manager for TH Real Estate, said: “We believe that these new city centre homes will provide opportunities for first time buyers to get a foot on the housing ladder and for local ‘down-sizers’ to buy a home that suits their circumstances.

“The residents of the new homes will add life to this part of the city centre and contribute to the local economy through their use of local shops and services.

“Also, the restoration of the building’s exterior will add to the attractiveness of the city centre and the conservation area.

“We are pleased that we have been able to come forward with a viable and sustainable scheme that will bring back in to use the long-vacant upper floors of Castle House which have been empty for over 25 years.”

Two previous attempts, in 2014 and 2015, to turn the offices into homes, foundered. One was refused by the council and the other was withdrawn, to be replaced by the revised scheme now lodged.

Do you think more flats are needed in Norwich city centre? Write, giving full contact details, 
to Letters Editor, Prospect 
House, Rouen Road, Norwich 
NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

25 comments

  • Arfur, I was being sarcastic. I genuinely couldn't care less what they do with this building or any other building that falls within the geographic boundaries of Norwich City Council. Luckily I no longer live within those boundaries.

    Report this comment

    rancidiser

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Norwich needs homes so, aside from the lack of parking, this is a great idea. The unit next to Maplins has been boarded up for a very long time. It was supposed to be a pub or restaurant but no takers. Not surprising given the local competition. Next project ought to be any disused Norwich UnionAviva offices around the corner that could also be turned into homes.

    Report this comment

    MattW

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Rancidiser, why is there always some kn*b who wants to bring refugees into the discussion?

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Well I'd rather it be used for job creating business space than compromised flats as all office space in the centre seems to be destined for. However, if they can get Maplins out why not just demolish and build some modern spec offices instead? It's been empty and unloved for so long no one can complain if it gets replaced.

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • It is truly astonishing that some people in Norwich would prefer to find reasons to keep the building empty for another 25 years than express some positive thoughts about this proposal. What a miserable bunch!

    Report this comment

    JSmith

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Why don't the council put the 50 Syrian refugees they are taking on into the place?

    Report this comment

    rancidiser

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Who would by a flat there with the horrendous illegal pollution that exists in that very area, they really wouldn't be fit for human habitation unless air conditioned 247.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • What an excellent idea. Many people would be happy to live without car parking. Walking distance of the railway station, buses on the door step for the Research Park seem good selling points to me. I note that apartments are now on the market in Imperial House. Office space does not seem to be required in city centre at present.

    Report this comment

    jennifer jane

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • I don't see why lack of parking is such a big deal. If you have a car and want somewhere to park it, don't buy a flat there.

    Report this comment

    Mikado Kember

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • I don't see why lack of parking is such a big deal. If you have a car and want somewhere to park it, don't buy a flat there.

    Report this comment

    Mikado Kember

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • One more point, why is it branded 'historic' other than its quite old? Nothing in that article marks the building as 'historic', just old and unwanted. Quite a difference.

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Excellent news - we need to encourage more people to live in the city centre. I'd love an apartment opposite the Castle (would happily give up my car and rely on the Norfolk Car Club when necessary). A good mix of homes and offices will keep the centre thriving. The artists impression also looks better than the current flat front.

    Report this comment

    Huw Sayer

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Not everyone has a car. Clearly provision would need to be made for safe cycle storage. One of the changes over the last half century has been the lack of urban centre accommodation creating deadish areas outside shopping hours. Having said that Norwich is not the most extreme example. Wouldn't suit most of us but seems to be a perfectly normal solution and better use of an used building which lessens the pressure for more construction. Without wishing to join in any argy bargy about the homeless one has to recognise that any supply for them has to be paid for and I don't think this particular building is suitable material to address that problem, much though one might have some sort of sympathy for those who have lost their way.

    Report this comment

    Green Ink from Tunbridge Wells

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • I feel sorry that there are people on here who don't look at the positives but are busy running others down. . . . When we lived in a "village" in Spain - all their towns are "villages . . . " the most noticeable thing was that in the traditional old parts all the shops had houses above them - we for example lived on the third floor - and there were another 2 floors above us. The flats weren't the small pokey holes that tend to be standard here in England - we had 3 double bedrooms, a living room, dining area and decent size kitchen - oh and 2 bathrooms. The rent was also "affordable" . . . Here we throw money at "regeneration" which tends to mean the local council spends money laying granite sets or in Norwich narrowing roads by introducing cycle ways . . . If you look around the city or places like Yarmouth, you will notice that there are loads of places like this - shop on the ground floor and often empty space above. regenerate Town and city centres by doing just this - convert this space into living space - it will provide an income so shop rents could be reduced, it now creates a growing centre population to bring the centre to life especially at night . . . Driving people out of centres hasn't worked so bring them back . . . as for car parking I'm sure a radical thought about this could remedy this problem and possibly alter current traffic demand - I do have some radical ideas!! I hope the conversion gets the go ahead, 25 years of being empty isn't good enough.

    Report this comment

    manbythesea

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • At no point can I see that Daisy is insinuating that people are homeless out of choice so why the reaction? An old school friend of mine died living rough on the street, he lived there because he had a drink problem that stopped him functioning in the ways of holding down a job, keeping a house etc and he fell through the Social Services safety net and I suspect many homeless people are in the same boat. We do not have a housing shortage as we are building more than enough to cover the increase in population over the past 40 years. We have an access issue as Daisy says. Why do 30 somethings live with their parents? Probably because it is an easy option. I moved out when I was in my early 20s, I was able to get a 100% mortgage for 6 times my salary. With interest rates at 12% it took most of my salary but renting was sadly not an option, it is now and I would take it. If there really was a housing shortage then property prices would go up and it would make it worthwhile for developers to start to develop

    Report this comment

    JohnnyH

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • I do love the naivety of some people, believing that homelessness is solely down to the lack of housing. There are many different causes of homelessness and each person's case is unique and different. To say that this office has stood empty and should have been used to house the homeless means that you have no respect for private ownership of property. Do you have a spare room? If so, why have you not handed it over to a homeless person? It's the same thing - property is owned and there is a very long legal process for the local council to take ownership of an abandoned building. In this case, the building was not abandoned and had clear ownership title. It was maintained and all rents, taxes, etc, were paid, so there was no legal basis for it to be turned over to the council for social housing. Plus, the building was set up as office space - to change it to housing requires a change-of-use application and a lot of cost to convert it to suitability (more bathrooms facillities separated from living and cooking areas, power, light, walls, etc). Who pays for that - the council, or do they force the owner to put up the cost? How do they get the money back? What happens when the owner wants to sell - do they lose the money, or does the council pay the going rate?

    Report this comment

    So_Many_Haters!

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Ted: "am i a hard heartless bas**d no just a realist who says it as it is." No your'e not Ted, you are just a prejudiced knuckle dragger who does not know where his shift key is.

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Oh Daisy, I am disappointed. An empty building in the middle of the city whilst people are sleeping rough - and you cannot see a way to connect the two? Instead you descend to insinuating that people are on the street through choice, and ignore the true reasons. As I said, I am disappointed in you.

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Overall it's a good idea, uses the empty space, gets more people into the city at night time. Market forces.

    Report this comment

    augustuspablo

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • very well put daisy, in most cases the rough sleeping are homeless through their own doing, tenants from hell! i have had them, and so have most landlords, so who in their right mind is going to rent to them? leave it to city council or housing associations? even they do not want them. am i a hard heartless bas**d no just a realist who says it as it is.

    Report this comment

    ted

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • It is little wonder that Norwich is not prospering as it should if a building of this magnitude is allowed to be unused for 25 years. What is the thought process (if one exists) that would permit a potential gold mine to sit empty for this period of time? 25 years of earning rent etc wasted? Whoever owns this building needs to seriously shake their ideas up because the historic none usage is bordering on insanity.

    Report this comment

    Zameer

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Oh my gosh Daisy ! half way houses to where , if we have housing for all why are we building more every year , why are we told, and yes can see that there is a housing shortage,why are children in their thirties still at home with their parents , yes some homeless are there out of choice but c'mon all should have a home in our society, it should be a human right !

    Report this comment

    cal

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • We really should be encouraging jobs to come back to the city centre. But as certain groups want to make getting to and from the centre impossible that's not going to happen. Shame. Homes without parking...genius. So easy for your friends and family to pop round too. Disaster.

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • Oh come on Arfur there is no cause effect or consequence to connect the problems. It is a shame the building is not viable as offices or for other non residential use-as flats there will be no car parking-will there even be space for a bicycle? residents will all have to use very un eco friendly tumble driers and noise and fumes from Castle Meadow bus stops are hardly going to allow them to have an open window. The problem of homelessness is partly one of access to deposits and finance for rents and in some cases of the personal problems of the homeless which make them less than easy tenants.This is something that should be addressed by local government, more hostels as half way houses.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, March 11, 2016

  • How many people sleeping rough on the streets of Norwich? How long has this building been empty?

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, March 11, 2016

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

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