Analysis: What next for Anglia Square revamp after scheme is blocked?

Historic England commissioned Ash Sakula Architects to come up with alternatives to the Anglia Squar

Historic England commissioned Ash Sakula Architects to come up with alternatives to the Anglia Square scheme. Their plans include a sky garden. Pic: Ash Sakula Architects - Credit: Ash Sakula Architects

The fate of the Anglia Square shopping centre could yet be played out in the High Court - extending a saga which has gone on for years.

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

The 1960s shopping centre has been in the hands of a string of companies, with the current owners - Columbia Threadneedle - buying it for £7.5m in 2014.

Then Norwich City Council leader Brenda Arthur described that as a “vote of confidence in the future of Norwich”.

But the new owners said they would not go ahead with previous plans for the shopping centre, which were scuppered by the credit crunch.

In 2017 Columbia Threadneedle joined forces with Weston Homes to lodge its revamp scheme, which originally included a 25-storey tower. A year later a revised scheme, with a 20-storey tower.

Norwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian Burt

Norwich City Council Labour leader Alan Waters. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

That failed to win over objectors, but it was approved by the city council’s planning committee - before the matter was called-in for communities secretary Robert Jenrick’s ultimate decision of refusal.

So what happens now? Weston Homes wants to challenge the secretary of state’s refusal in the High Court. They have six weeks to ask for a statutory review.


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Another option would be for them to lodge a revised scheme, possibly with a lower tower.

But, during the planning inquiry, the company had argued at least 1,200 residential units was “an essential requirement to achieve economic viability”.

The revamp of Anglia Square has been rejected. Photo: Weston Homes

The revamp of Anglia Square has been rejected. Photo: Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

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It could create a situation where a shopping complex, which needs maintenance, continues to deteriorate. Would Columbia Threadneedle look to sell and would there be any takers?

A question mark also hangs over a £15m offer Homes England made for the demolition and development work at the complex. Council leader Alan Waters fears that could be lost.

But critics of the scheme argue this is an opportunity for work to be done on an alternative.

Historic England had commissioned architects Ash Sakula Architects to demonstrate how something more sympathetic could be created.

That vision, presented at the planning inquiry, included just under 600 homes, the bulk of them on low levels and a sky garden, with views of the city.

John Neale, from Historic England, said at the inquiry it gave “serious pause for thought”, but conceded it was “not viable in the present circumstances”.

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