Traders say it’s now or never for Anglia Square revamp
PUBLISHED: 15:00 10 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 10 May 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
Traders fear that Anglia Square’s redevelopment will never happen if existing proposals are turned down.
The Magdalen Street Area and Anglia Square Traders Association (MATA) has today voiced its support for plans to revamp the shopping complex in Norwich.
But it also hit out at those putting forward “unrealistic” requirements and “pie in the sky” wishes for the scheme.
MATA, which represents businesses in Magdalen Street, said such demands could result in developers walking away from the project.
Its vice chair, James Wade, said it would be a “nail in the coffin” for the area as a whole should that happen.
Housebuilder Weston Homes, along with landowner Columbia Threadneedle, have lodged plans with Norwich City Council to transform Anglia Square.
The application seeks permission for up to 1,250 new homes, a 25-storey tower, dozens of shops, a 200-bed hotel and a 600-space car park.
The project would see a minimum of 120 affordable homes, plus a £2.5m new base for Surrey Chapel, which would be demolished.
Of the 208 comments lodged with the city council about the plans, 179 of them are objections, with 22 in support.
Mr Wade, MATA’s vice chair, said: “The negativity and unrealistic requirements being put forward may see these prospective developers walk away again.
“If the current developers go, any potential new owner will look at the track record of previous development attempts.
“A rejection of this one will be another nail in the coffin not just for Anglia Square, but this area as a whole.”
He said his concern is shared by the MATA committee, along with “most” other businesses and residents spoken to on Magdalen Street.
While many people say they want to see something happen to the complex, the scale of the development - in particular the height of the tower - has proved particularly contentious.
But the applicants say the financial viability of Anglia Square’s redevelopment “rests with the scheme in its entirety.”
Ultimately, the final decision on whether the scheme will go ahead will be made by Norwich City Council’s planning committee.
A spokesman for Weston Homes said the company had already spent £2.5m on the planning application, adding that it was a case of “now or never” for the scheme.
“If the planning application is refused, Weston Homes will not spend another £2.5 million on revising plans and going through the whole process again,” the spokesman said.
“So this really is a case of now or never for the renewal plans. This decision is for Norwich to make, and we await the outcome.
“Weston Homes believe that a renewed Anglia Square will be good for Norwich, its residents and businesses.
“A firm future for the site, massive inward investment for Norwich resulting in new facilities, jobs and homes, this is what our proposals will deliver. “In Weston Homes’ view, a positive and confirmed future for the site is better than stagnation and slow decay.”
The company spokesman said the proposed scheme was “only commercially viable in its entirety.”
Objectors claim the height of the development would block out views of Norwich Cathedral’s spire.
Others, meanwhile, have criticised the design of the proposed buildings, labelling them as “boring”.
While Mr Wade, who has had a shop on Magdalen Street since 1976, acknowledged the concerns, he said views of the cathedral were already obstructed.
He said: “Having walked the area thousands of times, I have never managed to see much more than the tip of the spire.
“When you walk anywhere near Anglia Square then your view is obstructed.
“Uninspiring buildings? Have they looked on St Stephens or even just the other side of St Crispins at the office blocks?”
Mr Wade said the deteriorating state of Anglia Square could result in more business leaving. “The car park is falling down, and there are shops behind that which at some point will become unsafe and will have to move out,” he said.
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