'David and Goliath situation' - Objectors discuss Anglia Square development
PUBLISHED: 21:55 14 January 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 16 January 2020
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
More than 100 people turned out to express their anger over plans to revamp Anglia Square, ahead of what one speaker described as a "David and Goliath battle" against developers.
The public meeting was called to discuss objections to the £271m project by Weston Homes, which would see 1,234 new homes, a 20-story tower block, and a 200-bed hotel built on the current site of Anglia Square.
Norwich City Council's planning committee approved the plans last year, but the resulting opposition, including from Historic England, prompted a planning inquiry, which will start on January 28.
The main objections centre on the aesthetic impact of the development, in particular, the high-rise tower blocks.
Addressing the packed room at the Forum Norwich on Tuesday night, Chairman of SAVE Europe's Heritage, Marcus Binney, urged objectors to remain optimistic about their chances of halting the development.
He said: "Norwich has a glorious skyline and is up there with the best of the medieval cities in Europe. This is a David and Goliath situation, with the council spending a fortune on lawyers, but we can fight this."
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John Neale, from Historic England, said: "These proposals will seriously harm the character of Norwich. Norwich is a city of international importance and this scheme would profoundly hurt it. Anglia Square is a blight, no doubt, but also an opportunity, and the developer has woefully failed to respond to that."
Also speaking was chairman of the Norwich Society, Paul Burall, who expressed concern about how the new homes would change the makeup of the community.
He said: "We want balanced communities."
At the inquiry later this month, Weston Homes and Anglia Square owners Columbia Threadneedle intend to present evidence the proposal does not "cause harm" to heritage assets.
The council had been told it would get £12.2m of government money for infrastructure for the development but feared the inquiry would mean the deadline for spending it would be missed.
However, the government has said the cash, now increased to £15m, would still be available if the scheme is given permission.
The council's Labour-controlled cabinet is due to agree a contract with Homes England on Wednesday.
A decision was due to be made last month, but put off due to the general election.