Changing face of Norwich: Cranes tower over city as schemes take shape
- Credit: DENISE BRADLEY
Towering cranes over the skyline of Norwich are a sign that, while it has been a year since coronavirus lockdown began, the city has continued to change.
Construction work has, understandably, slowed because of the various restrictions introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent impact on the economy.
But a string of major projects are altering how the city looks, with three huge cranes currently adding to the usual mix of spires and towers.
And they range from the transformation of a museum beloved by generations to hundreds of new homes for Norwich's burgeoning student population and other people keen to move into the city centre.
Coronavirus restrictions has meant some people have barely ventured into the city centre over the past 12 months.
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When they do get back, here are some of the schemes they will see which are changing the face of Norwich.
1. Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England
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It takes a lot to dwarf Norwich Castle, but then you need a lot of crane when working on a multi-million pound revamp.
That's why a mammoth, bright yellow, 136ft tower crane currently looms over the medieval city landmark.
The crane is necessary while work is done on the Royal Palace Reborn project at the beloved museum and art gallery.
It is being used to transport materials for the £13.5m project, such as steel and glass.
And Morgan Sindall Construction will also use it to make alterations to the roof, which will make the battlements fully accessible to the public for the first time.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project will recreate the Norman layout of the keep, enabling visitors to experience Norwich Castle as it was in its medieval heyday.
Architects Feilden + Mawson are behind the Gateway to Medieval England project, which is also opening up new views of the Grade I listed Castle Keep.
2. Duke Street Riverside
This Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) scheme has seen the old 1970s former University of East Anglia flats in Mary Chapman Court, on Duke Street, demolished.
Being built in their place is new, purpose-built accommodation for 100 NUA students in a seven-storey complex.
The development, designed by Hudson Architects and granted planning permission in 2019, will also feature a new lecture theatre and a cafe, with improved public access to the site.
The flats are due to be ready for students to move into from September.
3. St James Quay
It has taken the best part of a decade, but more than 200 homes on land at the former Jarrold Printworks site are now taking shape.
Permission for a scheme, including 200 homes, a 60-bedroom hotel and offices, was granted to Jarrold in 2007.
While some offices and a bridge over the river were built. a slowdown in the housing market meant the homes had not been built.
But, in 2018, fresh plans were lodged with Norwich City Council by Essex-based housebuilder Hill, which were granted.
Construction of the St James Quay development, designed by Feilden+Mawson is continuing.
4. Westwick Street homes
A building which was once a crucial hub in Norwich’s telephone network has been reduced to rubble - to make way for 40 new homes.
Permission to demolish the 1950s-built Westwick House, in Westwick Street, was given the go-ahead at a meeting of Norwich City Council’s planning committee in October 2016.
All telephone traffic used to be carried over copper conductors in telephone cables.
But because copper wire is resistant to electrical signals, the power of the signals diminishes over distance.
To help make long-distance calls audible, amplification was needed – which is what happened at the telephone repeater station.
But the development of modern optic cables rendered such stations redundant.
Developer Wensum Development Ltd is building 42 new flats on the site, with the scheme designed by LSI Architects.
The one and two-bedroom apartments will be housed in two L-shaped blocks – one of five storeys and one of four storeys.
While work began in May last year, the past couple of weeks have seen the demolition of the last remaining sections of the old repeater station.