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Rethink over £100m Norwich shoe factory revamp

PUBLISHED: 08:37 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 08:31 16 August 2017

St Mary's Works, St Mary's Plain, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

St Mary's Works, St Mary's Plain, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

A rethink over proposals for a £100m revamp of a former Norwich shoe factory could see more than 400 jobs created in the city, a developer has claimed.

An artist's impression of some of the new homes. Pic: Architekton An artist's impression of some of the new homes. Pic: Architekton

But critics of plans for new homes, a hotel and offices in the area around St Mary’s Works still have concerns and want to avoid the project becoming one which the city comes to regret.

Developers Architekton submitted a request for outline planning permission at the site, off Duke Street, last December.

That included plans for almost 200 new homes, a 100-room hotel, 1,800sq m of offices and a 150-space car park stacking system.

David Fullman, Labour councillor for Mancroft ward and Lord Mayor of Norwich. Pic: Norwich City Council. David Fullman, Labour councillor for Mancroft ward and Lord Mayor of Norwich. Pic: Norwich City Council.

But the height of some of the blocks – one of which was proposed to be 10 storeys high – attracted criticism.

David Fullman, the city’s Lord Mayor and Labour councillor for the ward where the project is planned, had said: “Developing the site in the proposed manner will be like transporting two of the tower blocks on the Heartsease or Mile Cross into

this area of the city centre and I believe that this is not appropriate.”

Historic England also objected, saying some proposals would harm the historic significance of listed buildings. People living nearby also raised concerns, including about parking.

Simeon Jackson, Green city councillor for Mancroft Ward. Photo: Norwich Green Party Simeon Jackson, Green city councillor for Mancroft Ward. Photo: Norwich Green Party

Architekton has now lodged revised proposals, reducing the height of some of the blocks and changing parking arrangements.

It has also cut the number

of homes from 196 to 168 and the number of rooms at the hotel, which would replace St Mary’s House on the St Crispins roundabout, from 100 rooms

to 50.

And it wants to increase the amount of proposed office space from 1,800sq m to 4,500sq m, saying that would double the number of jobs the project would create to 400.

David Mimran, project architect, said: “A major aim for us is to encourage the creation of high quality job opportunities. Mindful that Norwich is

second bottom nationally on the Social Mobility Index we see creating places for innovative companies as a key requirement for Norwich’s future and for extending opportunities to the young.”

He said a pilot project at nearby St George’s Works now housed 50 micro businesses and said: “Our revised plans take this into account and is the key driver for the change in commercial space between the schemes.”

Despite the revisions to the proposals, some neighbours still have concerns over the scheme.

Andrew Deeley, of St Martin’s Lane, said: “There have been improvements. Reducing the number of rooms in the hotel makes sense and the parking arrangements are now more sensible.

“But we still have concerns, including over the height. If you’re coming down Duke Street looking at St Mary’s all you will see is this monster of a tower behind it.”

He said residents fear their homes would be overshadowed by the development and said: “This is a once in a 100 years development and if they get it wrong it could create something that Norwich will live to regret.”

Simeon Jackson, Green city councillor for the ward, said the revised scheme was a “massive improvement” on the previous one and had addressed some issues, although he said the height of some of the blocks continued to be a concern.

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