When Norwich City Council unveiled its action plan for the north of the city in 2008, Anglia Square was at its heart.

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The proposed redevelopment would see the pedestrianised centre combine high quality shopping with accommodation, supported by businesses in the regenerated surrounding streets.

But when the credit crunch hit in 2009, developers had to scale back the plans before putting them on ice until market conditions had recovered – where they remain to this day.

That has left Anglia Square in the shade while areas around St Augustine’s Street have been transformed, and made the centre “an irrelevance”, says a residents’ group.

But retail bosses say demand for units at Anglia Square is higher than ever, and that shops are weathering the conditions.

So what lies in store for the 1960s complex, and can it be part of a regenerated north city area in its current form?

Stuart McLaren, secretary of the St Augustine’s Community Together Residents’ Association, said residents were now focusing their energies elsewhere, feeling that developers Centenary Ashcroft have “abandoned” the stalled project.

“Anglia Square has dropped off the radar now that St Augustine’s is regenerating on its own,” he said. “It’s not on people’s minds because it has dragged on for so many years that everyone’s just got fed up with it.

“Since the one-way system was completed we seem to have got more shops moving into the area around St Augustine’s, and we’ve rather forgotten about the square. It’s become an irrelevance in a way.”

A mini-renaissance in St Augustine’s Street has been gathering momentum in recent months, with businesses being attracted to the area and empty units filling up, yet offices at Anglia Square remain empty.

And two Norwich eyesores have had their futures resolved this year, with Westlegate House to be converted to flats and the Mecca Bingo hall on All Saints Green to be demolished.

Centenary Ashcroft secured permission for the multi-million pound regeneration of Anglia Square in 2008. In March of this year, director Ranald Phillips said the company would like to be on site later in the year, dependent upon market conditions – a message repeated last week.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright agreed that the delays had been “incredibly frustrating” and has pledged to obtain an update from developers for residents.

“Everyone just wants to see something happen now,” he said. “It’s been several years that the proposals have come and gone, and the applications have been brought.

“Anglia Square is such an important part of that side of the city, and the St Augustine’s and Magdalen Street area could get a real boost once the redevelopment has proceeded.”

Mr McLaren said despite its uncertain future, Anglia Square retained “a certain characterful charm”, and centre manager Roy Ruggles said business was still strong. “Since Christmas we have let eight units – we’re now full up and I’ve had to be turning shops away,” he said.

“Anglia Square is thriving in the community and in the recession.”

The new arrivals include a carpet shop, a wedding shop and a gaming shop, said Mr Ruggles, overturning the popular perception of Anglia Square reputation as a centre for charity shops and discount retailers.

“We are still conscious that as a shopping centre we still have to trade,” he said. “We have to make it work for the people who are here. It will be nice when the redevelopment comes, but my priority is keeping the customers we have.”

Mr Ruggles said he saw Anglia Square in its current state as a significant part of the regeneration of the area, especially since the one-way system was introduced.

Trevor Wicks, owner of the Hollywood Cinema at Anglia Square, agreed with Mr Ruggles that sitting back and waiting for the new Anglia Square was not an option. “We have to be realistic: nothing is being done in the current climate,” he said.

“I don’t think the uncertainty makes a difference. We all get up in the morning and go to bed at night and just carry on.”

14 comments

  • It never was a pleasant place, now, as a second hand car lot it is a horrible place! I avoid it whenever possible and when PMT move out and QD occupy their new shop on Magdalen Street it will be like a ghost town. The revamp will be on ice for a very very long time I fear.

    Add your comment |

    IT Man

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • I was down there today, I have to say a lot of water has gone under the bridge since the proposed "regeneration", at the time the Square was getting more and more like a ghost town, but in recent years I have noticed that it has become more and more busy, I don't think I noticed any empty units, apart from the supermarket one.... It would be a real waste if the Square was flattened because it has now taken this long for it to pick up (best part of 50 years?) Now as for Sovereign and Gildengate House, I have always been very fond of, particularly Sovereign House, yes it looks an "eyesore" at the moment, but come on, what do you expect after nigh on 50 years without maintenance and windows being smashed ect.... Why they can't just use the current buildings and bring them into the current day, is the bit I really cannot understand, Look at Park Hill, Sheffield for example, was deemed an "eyesore" until it was re-furbished, despite the developers saying the buildings are obsolete, there is absolutely no reason why they cannot be refurbished, like Park Hill was... If they carry on with what they say they are going to carry on with and by that I mean demolishing the square, they will most likely run out of money and there you have it, just another muddy hole in the ground! I honestly think it would be in the best interests of the people who use the square to re furbish the structures rather than replacing them! ~John~

    Add your comment |

    Bullseye Sbt

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

  • when i go there i feel streetsmart.

    Add your comment |

    bookworm

    Monday, June 25, 2012

  • Come friendly bombs and fall on Anglia Square

    Add your comment |

    robotsthatcare

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Come friendly bombs and fall on Anglia Square

    Add your comment |

    robotsthatcare

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • Just flatten the whole site.

    Add your comment |

    Tone the moan

    Monday, June 25, 2012

  • No need for it now, with all the large and express supermarkets. Best thing to do is to put a decent rows of shops on the street frontages, maybe a car park and reinstate people scale homes on the site to replace the old houses that were demolished.

    Add your comment |

    Daisy Roots

    Friday, June 29, 2012

  • I don't feel comfortable with the cars being sold in the middle of the square - it feels like sitting in a car park.

    Add your comment |

    Ms Denitto

    Monday, June 25, 2012

  • It reminds me of out of date food - past it's use by date.

    Add your comment |

    biglingers

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

  • Anglia square has been a tragic scar on Norwich ever since in was built with the inner ring road and St. Crispins flyover. Over 40 years of hurt. Fortunately PMT is moving shortly to St Augustines, which has been thoughtfully transformed. I will then have no need to visit Anglia Square or go any further up Magdalen Street than the depressing flyover.

    Add your comment |

    Rich Hartt

    Monday, June 25, 2012

  • Lay turf on it and call it Anglia park

    Add your comment |

    billytheolympicbookie

    Monday, June 25, 2012

  • Come friendly bombs and fall on Anglia Square

    Add your comment |

    robotsthatcare

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

  • As noted PMT is moving out and the £ shop has got the old camping shop on Magdalen St. Richer Sounds went some time ago. They obviously don't like the uncertainty. If others go it is tempting to think the developers hand will be forced. I remember when Sainsburys was there and no-one is talking about letting that big empty unit or the two night clubs which lay hidden and abandoned. But the comments are right that life goes on and prospers regardless, and a community of sorts has developed in spite of the threatened changes.

    Add your comment |

    oldowl

    Monday, June 25, 2012

  • Anglia square has been a tragic scar on Norwich ever since in was built with the inner ring road and St. Crispins flyover. Over 40 years of hurt. Fortunately PMT is moving shortly to St Augustines, which has been thoughtfully transformed. I will then have no need to visit Anglia Square or go any further up Magdalen Street than the depressing flyover.

    Add your comment |

    Rich Hartt

    Monday, June 25, 2012

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

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