Date set for High Court showdown over £271m Anglia Square plans

The rejected revamp of Anglia Square could be set for the High Court. Pic: Weston Homes

A date has been set for the High Court hearing over the mooted revamp of Anglia Square. - Credit: Weston Homes

A date has been set for the High Court showdown where the final fate of controversial plans to revamp a Norwich shopping centre will be decided.

Whether the £271m redevelopment of Anglia Square can go ahead or not will be settled once and for all during a two-day High Court hearing starting on May 19.

The legal action was triggered because developers Weston Homes and site owners Columbia Threadneedle challenged the decision by local government secretary Robert Jenrick to refuse permission for the revamp.

Plans for the shopping centre had been approved by Norwich City Council’s planning committee in 2018.

The plans for Anglia Square, which will now be subject to a planning inquiry. Photo: Weston Homes

The plans for Anglia Square were rejected by local government secretary Robert Jenrick. - Credit: Weston Homes

Those plans include more than 1,200 new homes, including within a 20-storey tower, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops.

But the proposals attracted fierce criticism from organisations such as Historic England and the Norwich Society, due to the massing and height and its impact on the historic city skyscape, including on Norwich Cathedral.

Settling down to debate the future of Anglia Square, the planning inquiry gets underway at city hall

A four-week planning inquiry took place at City Hall in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

That led to a four-week planning inquiry and, after months of deliberations, planning inspector David Prentis said the scheme should be permitted.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick announced more funding for councils to house homeless people during

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick. - Credit: PA

But Mr Jenrick thought otherwise and, in November last year, rejected the scheme.

He said the massing of the individual blocks and the tower, and the extent to which the height and mass of the proposal would be “uncharacteristic” in the Norwich City Centre Conservation Area and did not fit with policy.

He said the benefits of the scheme were not sufficient to outbalance the identified ‘less than substantial’ harm to heritage assets.

Bob Weston, chairman and chief executive of Weston Homes. Pic: Weston Homes.

Bob Weston, chairman and chief executive of Weston Homes. Pic: Weston Homes. - Credit: Weston Homes

Bob Weston, chairman and chief executive of Weston Homes, said at the time: “The secretary of state has gone against local democracy and the recommendations of a public inquiry, choosing to side with the NIMBY brigade who would rather see Norwich city centre die than support a future for the city’s economy."

His company applied for a statutory review and May's hearing will see a High Court judge decide whether the secretary of state was right to reject the scheme.

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Anglia Square in Norwich. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

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The judge could overrule that decision and permit the scheme to go ahead.

A spokesman for Weston Homes said, now a date had been fixed for the hearing, it would not be appropriate to comment further.