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Anglia Square and Magdalen Street would 'die' without each other, claims retail chief

PUBLISHED: 08:01 11 August 2019 | UPDATED: 07:42 12 August 2019

Eric Kirk, chairmn of  the Magdalen street area and Anglia Square traders’ association and community group (MATA), on Magdalen Street. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Eric Kirk, chairmn of the Magdalen street area and Anglia Square traders' association and community group (MATA), on Magdalen Street. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

Anglia Square and a neighbouring diverse shopping street would "die" without each other, according to a retail expert.

The current Anglia Square v the new plans. Photos: Antony Kelly/Weston HomesThe current Anglia Square v the new plans. Photos: Antony Kelly/Weston Homes

The bold claim was made by Eric Kirk, chairman of the Magdalen street area and Anglia Square Traders' Association and community group (MATA).

Mr Kirk, who is also manager of Norwich's Anglia Square, said: "MATA's position is without Anglia Square, Magdalen Street would die and without Magdalen Street, Anglia Square would die. People come to the area because of the benefits of both. We see them as joined at the hip, which means whatever happens to one happens to the other.

"We, as a traders and community group, are determined to ensure both survive."

A £271m redevelopment of Anglia Square into a residential, leisure and hotel complex, was approved by city councillors in December 2018 after an application from Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle despite 767 objections.

A planning inquiry into Norwich City Council's decision to approve the scheme is due to happen at the end of January 2020.

Mr Kirk, from Drayton, who first moved to Norfolk in 1996 to help revive Castle Mall, said: "People have watched the success of MATA and there are now similar groups in other areas of Norwich."

MATA was formed four years ago after businesses struggled following one year of roadworks on Magdalen Street.

It is made up of 106 business owners and charity shop representatives and 11 residents.

The group works with police, the council, bus companies and other organisations to raise concerns which has helped to reduce crime, improve parking signs, clean up the area and encourage landlords and tenants to tidy up the general appearance of the street.

Mr Kirk added: "The area used to have a terrible reputation and people would say, 'Don't go there'. Our car parks now see fewer crimes than the city centre. The biggest appeal is, unless you are brand conscious, there is nothing you can't get here. We have such a range. We are seeing an increase in trade. Businesses have become more specialised."

He said MATA's true aim was to keep the viability of the area strong for the benefit of the traders and local residents.

Highlights of Magdalen Street

From quirky coffee shops to antique stores full of hidden treasures, here are the main reasons why Eric Kirk loves Magdalen Street.

■Almost unique and truly convenient.

■Good transport links.

■Plenty of parking and easy access.

■Meeting the community's daily needs - unless you are fixated by big brand names there is nothing you cannot get.

■Fantastic food and drink.

■A browser's paradise for visitors from across the UK and beyond.

■History - from the Maids Head Hotel, the oldest in the UK, to the iconic Artichoke public house the site of a Leper hospital from the 1500s and Octagon Chapel on Colegate.

■Specialist services - it has services you may no longer expect to find like a bank, a post office, laundrette, chiropodist, normal and specialist hairdressers, a photographic artist studio and a large media and entertainment centre.

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