After almost 20 years in the pipeline, work on the multi-million-pound redevelopment of Anglia Square could be just six months away - as long as late-in-the-game twists are avoided.

There appears to be little standing in the way of the demolition of the brutalist eyesore shopping centre following approval earlier this week

Developer Weston Homes has even promised to get construction started in the last three months of 2023. 

The plans will see 1,100 homes built across the 11.5-acre site over four phases. 

Eastern Daily Press: Anglia SquareAnglia Square (Image: George Thompson, LDR)

Weston Homes also wants to construct 8,000 square meters of commercial space, a community hub and 450 car parking spaces on the land.    

Unlike the previous, now rejected scheme, the latest application has not been “called-in” to the government’s Planning Inspectorate. 

Calling-in is a legal procedure where planning applications are decided by inspectors and the secretary of state. 

Government guidance says plans cannot be called-in after they have been approved by a local planning authority. 

The controversial 2018 redevelopment was called-in by Historic England ahead of Norwich City Council making a decision, which ultimately led to it being rejected by the then secretary of state Robert Jenrick. 

This does not appear to have been done with the new scheme. 

However, in rare cases, planning permission can be revoked.

Eastern Daily Press: Plans for the village hall at Anglia SquarePlans for the village hall at Anglia Square (Image: Weston Homes)

Weston Homes has also outlined which areas will see demolition and development first. 

The first building to face the bulldozers is set to be the multi-storey car park, with work to start at the end of the year. The car park, which was built in the 1970s, has been unused since 2012

The cinema block is expected to be demolished next, starting in the last quarter of 2024 and Sovereign House will follow in 2026. 

Construction will focus first on a new community hub, which will be started alongside the demolition of the car park. 

It will see 353 homes built - 279 for sale at market rate, 58 for social rent and 16 shared ownership properties. 

Eastern Daily Press: An artist's impression of Anglia SquareAn artist's impression of Anglia Square (Image: Weston Homes)

In the previous plans, a vacant plot under St Crispen's Flyover, off Magdalen Street, would have been used to provide temporary housing in refitted shipping containers for existing businesses

Weston Homes’ spokesman said they have entered into an agreement with Norwich City Council to revamp the space under the flyover to create a flexible community event space. 

He said: “The redevelopment programme and the new scheme are being carefully phased in order to keep Anglia Square alive and allow tenants to move into new units as old ones are being demolished.” 

Several groups have expressed disappointment at the council’s decision to approve the plans, including Historic England and Save Britain’s Heritage. 

Tony Calladine, the east of England director of Historic England, said an opportunity had been missed to repair and enhance the character of the city. 

Eastern Daily Press:

“A redevelopment of Anglia Square at an appropriate scale for the historic area could have done much to create a vibrant and exciting space which at the same time complemented and enhanced the city’s historic character,” he said. 

Mr Calladine argued the scheme was too big for Norwich and would be architecturally at odds with the historic city. 

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said the scheme risked repeating mistakes made in the 1960s with the current site, branding the plans “over-scaled and generic”. 

She said: “There’s no reason why this city should not demand the highest quality new development for its current and future citizens. This is a massive missed opportunity.” 

The developer has insisted the scheme reinstates the “historic street pattern” and will deliver a high-quality neighbourhood for the city. 

Planning approval means Weston Homes now takes ownership of the site from landowner Columbia Threadneedle. 

More detailed planning applications will come forward for future phases of development.