December 6 2013 Latest news:
Dan Grimmer, Public affairs correspondent
Friday, September 13, 2013
A vision to breathe new life into a city centre building which has stood empty for more than a decade - by transforming it into almost 140 homes - has been revealed.
The ambitious proposals for the former Eastern Electricity Board site at Duke’s Wharf, off Duke Street, were unveiled to Norwich city councillors yesterday.
And the public will now be asked for their views on the scheme, which would see 132 apartments and five townhouses created on a revamped 2.2 acre riverside site which the city council has long hoped to bring back into use.
Norwich-based development management company Targetfollow Estates has enlisted architects Ingleton Wood to draw up designs for the site, which has been empty since 1999, except for a section which has been used as a car park.
The proposals include the creation of 81 apartments in the buildings facing the river and onto Duke Street, five townhouses facing the river (to replace an existing warehouse building) and three new blocks of 17 flats in the centre of the complex.
Two extra storeys would be added to the building along the riverside, which would increase to three on the corner nearest the bridge on Duke Street.
Along with a 500 square metre commercial unit fronting onto Duke Street, there would also be space for 99 cars, including an underground car park.
The architects are also working up ideas for the open spaces between the buildings, with a children’s play area one of the possibilities being considered.
Access to the site would be via Westwick Street, while there would also be a way out onto Duke Street, controlled with rising bollards or a swipe card system.
City councillors were briefed about the proposals at a meeting of the planning committee yesterday, with the developers looking to submit plans at the end of next month.
If planning permission is granted, then work could start in April next year, with the revamp complete by October 2015.
Targetfollow had secured planning permission for the site back in 2008. That scheme included offices, restaurants, cafes, an art gallery, townhouses and apartments.
That scheme was put on hold due to the economic downturn, but bosses at Targetfollow said this time would be a different story.
Alan Howard, director of Targetfollow, said: “We are very excited about the proposals. One crucial difference now is that Targetfollow owns the site debt free. We have a new management team in place and are committed and dedicated to the regeneration of Duke’s Wharf.”
Iain Hill, from Ingleton Wood, revealed one of the hopes for the site was that half of the total energy requirements for the development could come from an unusual source - reviving a commercial water source heat pump on the site which was the UK’s first when it was installed in 1945.
Letters about the proposals were sent out yesterday to nearby homes and businesses and the public have been invited to an open event next week to find out more about the plans and to give comments.
Deborah Gihawi, Labour councillor for Mile Cross, welcomed the principle of new life being breathed into the site. She said: “I am very pleased to see this area will get a boost and a revamp because at the moment it is in a state where it could turn into a ghetto.”
Simeon Jackson, Green councillor for Mancroft, questioned whether the heat pump might have an impact on the river and was concerned it could change the Wensum’s temperature.
Representatives from Ingleton Wood said feedback so far suggested it would have minimal impact and would not affect the temperature of the river. But they said the scheme would be thoroughly vetted, including by the Broads Authority.
• The public event where people can see the plans will take place at the former sports and social club building on the Duke’s Wharf site from 2pm until 8pm on Thursday, September 19.