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 KELLYThe 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 SocietyJohn 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.

18 comments

  • Voice of Reason, you speak the voice of reason. Your idea would be better for the economy .. and the area. Mass student accomodatation situated here would result in late night anti-social behaviour, drunkeness and a litter problem. It may be a small minority who behave in this manner but with this number of students, a small minority could cause significant problems. Also, adding further storeys to these buildings justs adds to the ugliness.

    Report this comment

    Johny

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • An interesting move. Having Student accommodation in the City Centre may at last give the impression that Norwich actually has a University. Many friends and business colleagues always state that you wouldn't know that the City has a University by walking around. Norwich is very odd the way. Go to Nottingham, for example and you will students every night of the week mixing in with everybody else. Not in Norwich! We've always had the students tucked away for some reason - this may change things - at last!

    Report this comment

    komakino

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Often forgotten the homeless in Norwich and Norfolk ... people who can not get in housing of any sort.

    Report this comment

    sixtiesbarclayboy

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • @Anglian, there is nothing in St, Stephens obscuring the skyline anymore than Sovereign House which is indeed a lot higher. These building have a lifespan in excess of 50 years so will be useful for many years to come.

    Report this comment

    kfoto

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • @Voice of Reason, who would buy or rent an upmarket apartment when there is not any vehicle parking available. University students do not need cars so it will be ideal for them. First Bus will just have to add more buses between St. Stephens and the UEA.

    Report this comment

    kfoto

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • All very well but one cant help but think it will diminish the appeal of the UEA if numbers of its students are housed in former office blocks in the city centre rather than purpose built accommodation on a leafy campus. The only good thing that could come out of it is a reduced demand for the large numbers of family houses currently let to students-but this tower block will have to have a lot going for it to compete with the appeal of a student house. One is reminded of places like Owens Park Tower Manchester-which appears to still be way down the list in student appeal. Students pay a lot of money for their accommodation, they deserve something decent and not to be ripped off. Another question is, why are we building business parks on green field with large surface car parks and acres of cut grass around them but cramming people into old buildings in the city with no space around them , in noise and fumes and with no parking space?

    Report this comment

    FlintinChalk

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Seems bizarre that this development in the centre of our fine city is going to be made by a £2 Dormant Company that has trouble filing its accounts on time. Makes one wonder which tax haven the money is coming from LOL.

    Report this comment

    David Arnold

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Demolition would improve the impact they have on our skyline! I wonder how long the estimated lifespan of most of the buildings on St Stephen's Street is?

    Report this comment

    Anglian

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Seems the best thing to do - revamp this dying area as a student quarter. Did wonder if possibly it would be a better area for some of PoW road night clubs as well. At least 700 odd students might make some use of those cycles paths as few others do.

    Report this comment

    Normal4Norfolk

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Well thats ok then.The Norwich Society appraisal committee have given it their consideration and given it the thumbs up. The students of Norwich seem to be well looked after, its a shame the youngsters of Norwich cant look forward to getting accommodation handed to them quite so easily.

    Report this comment

    Trevor Sadd

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Leave it there as st Stephens st is dying on its feet already in five years time it will be full of charity shops as no normal shop won't be able to afford the full rates .

    Report this comment

    stoneman

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Pull them down ! Demolish them.Always a blot on the landscape!.With two more floors out of scale , enough of High Rise Builings

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • In the nearest building put a drugs rehabilitation centre

    Report this comment

    L-F-G

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Why student accommodation in the centre of Norwich? A much better idea for the economy of Norwich would be two or three bedroom up market apartments.

    Report this comment

    Voice of Reason

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • This looks likes great idea. Office space like this is unlikely to be needed for some time, if ever again, would ease pressure on more standard housing for students (and therefore on the housing market generally) and would indeed bring a bit of life into the area in the evenings. Not sure about the need to add a couple of extra floors, but if whatever is done is completed to a similar standard visually as Westlegate Tower, this'll be A Good Thing.

    Report this comment

    lockers

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • makes total sense, what else can be done with these redundant office blocks once companies have been driven out of norwich to purpose built business parks with good road access and plenty of free parking , has to be the sensible way forward.

    Report this comment

    ted

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Lovely picture of St Stephens street....boarded up BHS and the empty tower blocks.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

  • Student Accommodation is a great use of these old, redundant office blocks right next to Norwich's bus station. A similar approach should be taken at Anglia Square, repurposing Sovereign House, rather than wholesale clearance and a grandiose scheme for a 25-storey tower. 25 floors of rabbit hutches in the sky will become the slums of tomorrow. Imagine living on the 25th floor when the lifts breakdown!

    Report this comment

    Rich Hartt

    Saturday, March 18, 2017

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

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