Developer WITHDRAWS controversial proposals to redevelop Anglia Square

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

The plans for Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

The developer behind controversial £271m plans to redevelop Anglia Square in Norwich has today withdrawn from the High Court battle over the proposals and pledged to go back to the drawing board.

The ambitious plan for the site has divided opinion, especially over the look of the proposal and a 20-storey tower block. It also included more than 1,200 new homes, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops.

A High Court hearing was due to be held next month because developers Weston Homes and site owners Columbia Threadneedle challenged the decision by local government secretary Robert Jenrick to refuse permission for the revamp.

However, Weston Homes today confirmed that it has withdrawn from that challenge and will return to the drawing board regarding the redevelopment of the site.

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Bob Weston, chairman and chief executive of Weston Homes, said: “Weston Homes remain committed to devising proposals that provide a future for the Anglia Square site and for this to be successful we need to be aligned with key stakeholders such as Historic England and others who like us are passionate about the site and Norwich.

"We are looking forward to working in friendly collaboration with everyone to create fresh proposals for this challenging site to get the best possible solution for everyone.”

Bob Weston of Weston Homes. Pic: Archant Library.

Bob Weston of Weston Homes - Credit: Archant

James Rigg, chief investment officer of UK Real Estate at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said: “We believe in the long term vision for Anglia Square. We continue to collaborate with stakeholders with our partner Weston Homes in order to create a viable future for Anglia Square and devise proposals that meet the aspirations of the community.”

The site and its future has been the subject of much debate for years, with proposals finally approved by Norwich City Council's planning committee in 2018.

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.

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

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

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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.

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