Former Aviva towers in Norwich’s St Stephens Street could be turned into homes for 740 students

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 March 2017 | UPDATED: 08:45 18 March 2017

An artist's impression of what the revamp St Stephens Towers could look like. Pic: Crown Student Living.

An artist's impression of what the revamp St Stephens Towers could look like. Pic: Crown Student Living.

Crown Student Living

Two huge tower blocks in the heart of Norwich could get a new lease of life as accommodation for 740 students.

The former Norwich Union building on St Stephen's Street, Norwich.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY The former Norwich Union building on St Stephen's Street, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Plans have been lodged to convert the St Stephens Towers, formerly offices for Aviva, which are above and behind the shops in St Stephens Street.

Developers Crown Student Living wants to refurbish the towers, which have stood empty for eight years, and to add two new floors to the current eight levels.

A new link between the two towers would also be created and there could also be a new route through the back of one of the shops, which the public would be able to get from St Stephens Street to the bus station.

The idea is that students at the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Norwich University of Arts will live in the revamped towers.

John Litster
Administrator and Secretary to the Trustees
The Norwich Society John Litster Administrator and Secretary to the Trustees The Norwich Society

In a statement, the developers said: “There is an evidenced need for student accommodation across the city and these dedicated purpose built rooms will go some way to addressing that shortage.

“Subject to planning approval being granted it is programmed to have the redevelopment proposals completed by August 2019.

“The redevelopment of the towers will add significant vibrancy and social benefits to this area of the city centre, while also providing further choice for the city’s student population seeking a high quality level of professionally managed student accommodation.”

The application has been backed by the UEA and the UEA’s students’ union. Roger Bond, the UEA’s director of estates and facilities, said the absence of purpose-built student housing in a city of Norwich’s size was unusual and the development would help.

Civic watchdog The Norwich Society has also given the scheme the thumbs up. John Litster, the society’s administrator, said: “Our planning appraisal committee considered it this week and gave it the thumbs up.

“With the best will in the world, it is never going to be used for offices again. Student accommodation would be a very good idea.

The accommodation would be a mix of individual studios, two person apartments, plus single level and duplex apartments ranging between two and nine beds.

Norwich City Council’s planning committee will make a decision in due course.

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