Call to demolish flyover in Norwich’s Anglia Square revamp

Magdalen Street flyover bridge, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Magdalen Street flyover bridge, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

The proposed revamp of Anglia Square in Norwich could be an opportunity to dismantle the Magdalen Street flyover, civic watchdogs have suggested.

Magdalen Street flyover under construction 30 years ago.

Magdalen Street flyover under construction 30 years ago. - Credit: EDP © 2002 (1971)

Ambitious proposals to redevelop the shopping centre, including demolishing the existing complex and building more than a thousand homes above new shops and restaurants, were revealed last week.

Their 'emerging proposals' include:

• The demolition of the current Anglia Square, the former stationery office Sovereign House and Gildengate House

• More than a thousand homes, to be built above new shop units and a new public square

• A new multi-storey car park

• The replacement of the existing cinema with a new one at ground level

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• Better links across the site, to open up entry to the complex from other directions

And the Norwich Society said the revamp could be an opportunity to get rid of the Magdalen Street flyover, the demolition of which the watchdog recommended in a report in the summer.

John Litster, Norwich Society administrator, said: 'The society welcomes initiatives to regenerate the area around Anglia Square, but firmly believes that they should be part of a wider strategy to reinvigorate and re-integrate that part of the city.

'This is a great opportunity to dismantle the unnatural barrier which is the Magdalen Street flyover, thus freeing adjacent strips of land for redevelopment, and re-imagining the movement of people and vehicles around and through that part of Norwich.'

He said the redevelopment should also include the nearby St Botolph's area, much of which is currently used for car parking.

Mr Litster added: 'Anglia Square was an unnatural construction in a medieval setting – it doesn't necessarily have to be replaced by a square, and the extent of the shopping and restaurant development should take account of the empty units in the city centre.

'The local shops and businesses have expended a lot of effort to create a unique character for Magdalen Street with a range of shops selling antiques and collectibles, and international food shops and restaurants.

'Any development should aim to build on these positive characteristics rather than creating just another identikit shopping mall.'

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council said: 'The removal of the flyover does not form part of any of the current plans for the Norwich road network.

'When developers put forward their proposals for Anglia Square, they will be carefully considered and consulted upon through the planning process, including the impact of any proposed changes on the highway.'

Anglia Square's developers – Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes – acknowledge redeveloping a site of such scale will take a number of years and will need to happen in several phases.

Before anything can happen, a planning application will need to be lodged with Norwich City Council. The council is expecting that to happen next spring.

Road was first proposed in the early 1960s

The controversial Magdalen Street flyover was proposed as part of a motorway plan for Norwich in the early 1960s.

In March 1962, City Hall displayed a model and photographs of the plan to the public and by April 1962 the city council approved the building of a flyover, to carry the new inner-link road, by 30 votes to eight.

The Magdalen Street and District Traders' Association had objected as members felt the flyover would create a division in the shopping area, ruin the beauty of the street, disrupt business during construction and cause some shops to be closed.

Designed by Monty Gaynor and his team at Alex Gibb and Partners, the flyover section cost £410,000, and was to be constructed by May Gurney.

The flyover, known among construction workers as May Gurney's Flying Circus, opened on June 12, 1972.

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