Norwich cafe and furniture shop on the move as homes plan is approved

Graham Waring. Photo by Simon Finlay

Graham Waring. Photo by Simon Finlay - Credit: EDP pics © 2011(01603) 772434

Plans for a Norwich café and furniture shop to be turned into flats have been given the go-ahead.

Workshops at the back of Grade II-listed Crystal House on Cattle Market Street, currently home to Warings furniture shop and cafe, will be converted into eight flats under the plans.

The front of the building will be split into two shop units at street level, with a central lobby area leading to a two-bedroom flat on the first floor and four two-bedroom and three three-bedroom properties at the rear.

Councillors voted by a majority to approve the plans at a meeting of Norwich City Council's planning committee yesterday.

Graham Waring, joint managing director of Warings, said the company said it had known of the owner's intention since moving in nearly three years ago, and would be looking for new premises.

'It won't work for us here. There's not enough space for a furniture shop and cafe and we need both to make it work,' he said. 'We would like to go elsewhere, though we don't know how long it may be before work begins.'

An internal car park with one space per flat would also be built, although there would be no additional parking for the shop units. Councillors expressed concerns at the changes to the front of the building, which was originally built as a foundry, workshop and showroom for the farm machinery company Holmes and Sons, and in particular the upper windows being obscured by blinds or curtains.

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But planners said folding doors would be fitted inside that flat, to create an indoor conservatory and maintain the building's historic facade, and agreed to impose a condition preventing any coverings being put up by tenants.

The committee heard an objection from Jeremy O'Rourke of LSI Architects next door, who said the new flats would overlook the firm's offices, and could affect their own future expansion plans.

Officers said the building's height, the subject of others' concerns, would not go above the ridge of the current building, and upper floors would be recessed so as not to overlook nearby homes.

What do you think of the plans? Write, with your full details, to Letters editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.