25-storey tower block planned in new Anglia Square development for up to 1,350 homes
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
A 25-storey tower block could emerge from the rubble after Norwich's Anglia Square complex is demolished as further details of a proposed regeneration scheme for more than 1,000 homes have been revealed.
It comes as developers Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle are exploring the need for an environmental impact assessment with Norwich City Council officers before submitting a full application.
The site, which includes the vacant former office building Sovereign House, the condemned multi-storey car park fronting Edward Street, and Surrey Chapel Free Church, would be transformed in a bid to attract new shops and restaurants to the area.
Iceni Projects, on behalf of Weston Homes, say in the EIA screening application the proposals 'are currently in the process of being refined', but expect all the existing buildings to be torn down, with the possible exception of Gildengate House.
With up to 1,350 homes planned, mainly one and two bed flats, there is scope for around 250 apartments to be given over to form a new hotel or student accommodation, reducing the number of private homes to 1,100.
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Up to 15,000sqm of retail space would be included, with space for a new cinema complex on ground level to replace the existing Hollywood Cinema.
Another 500sqm of floorspace to the west would be given over to house further commercial units such as a new doctor's surgery or artists workshops.
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A new multi-storey car park would allow for 600 public spaces and 200 residential after the old car park is torn down.
The plans are expected to include six distinct areas, intersected by two new pedestrian and cycle routes and two public open spaces.
Given the scale of the development it would take years to complete and has to come forward in phases, with the first to include the new multi-storey car park and tower block to the west.
The 25-storey tower would reach more than twice the height of Westlegate Tower in the city centre, or the Heartsease towers, which peak at 11 storeys. Neighbouring buildings would rise to between two and 14 storeys.
John Litster, secretary of civic watchdog the Norwich Society, said the tower has 'absolutely no place' in the city.
'In December there was talk of a signature building in this development,' he said. 'This would be a signature building not only for Norwich but for Norfolk and is quite out of keeping with the local area.
'The skyline of Norwich is dominated by the cathedral and rightly so. This would change that.
'We objected to 13 storeys at All Saints Green because it should come down to the rest of the sky line. We have to admit there must be four or five storeys to cram in more than 1,000 dwellings but we were hoping no higher than Sovereign House.'
He added the group are 'sceptical' the area would become a retail destination, a view not shared by Eric Kirk, chairman of the Magdalen Street Traders Association (MATA).
He said while the plans are still 'sketches', there is currently a new 'air of confidence' around the area about the proposals.
'Generally speaking MATA are very supportive of the development,' he said. 'If you look at what has happened on Magdalen Street a lot of the owners of the properties people are renting have put money in.
'There is an air of confidence around when before there hasn't been. Certainly as far as the proposals they have seen at the moment, there is nothing that has been a red line either for or against.
'These are very much sketches and there are no firm proposals as yet.'
Local campaigning group Norwich Over the Water has said public car parking is their 'greatest concern', insisting on 1,000 public spaces being retained. Under the plans, the capacity would be reduced from 1,450 to 600.
'The plans do not seem to provide for adequate public parking to make the new development a success,' the group say in their response.
'It is essential in our view that at least the same number of spaces as currently exist are provided in order to attract and maintain the current footfall.'
On Wednesday, Norwich City Council's cabinet will consider the adoption of the Anglia Square Policy Guidance Note - setting out their vision for what they consider 'the most significant development opportunity' to the north of the city.