‘My hope is for a common sense approach’ - Reaction to plans for Anglia Square finally being submitted
- Credit: Weston Homes
For decades, the future of Anglia Square has been a major discussion point, with previous attempts to redevelop the site falling flat.
However, after two years of consultation and exhibitions, a formal planning application has finally been submitted for the eyesore site's regeneration.
Among the features to be included in the application are more than 1,200 homes, dozens of shops and pedestrianised areas.
The application, submitted to Norwich City Council, has been put together by housebuilder Weston Homes, in conjunction with landowner Columbia Threadneedle.
Covering more than 1.2m sq, the project would see a minimum of 120 affordable homes, plus a £2.5m new base for Surrey Chapel, whose building will be demolished.
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A variety of features will be laid out in the application - which will be made public once it is verified by council officers - including two landscaped plazas providing the development's focal point.
The regeneration would include:
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• 1,200 homes, including a minimum of 120 on-site affordable homes
• Retail floor space, allowing for around 40 units
• A major food store
• A 200-bed hotel
• A 600-space multi-storey car park and residential parking for 75pc of properties
• Green squares and central courtyards
• Cycle links across the site
• A roof-level bar and restaurant.
The application is the latest in a line of bids to redevelop the site, all of which to date have fallen by the wayside.
Bob Weston, chief executive of Weston Homes, said: 'Historically, Anglia Square has been subject to several abandoned and stalled proposals.
'We are committed to changing this and providing a successful future for the site.
'There would be shops, restaurants and leisure at ground level, with homes above, with those on the uppermost floors offering panoramic views over Norwich city centre.'
Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, welcomed an application being lodged, but said he felt the development needed to be backed by the people of Norwich.
He said: 'For many people Anglia Square is an eyesore and the fact something needs to happen to it is quite clear.
'The litmus test for the development will be how well the developers have consulted with the public in preparing the plans.
'I feel any regeneration would need to be environmentally sustainable. The key factor is the overall impact it could have on the city.'
Another feature of the development is a leisure facility, which would include a ground-floor multiplex cinema.
Trevor Wicks, director of Hollywood Cinema, which is based at Anglia Square, said: 'It is positive an application has gone in, but in my time at the cinema it is the third separate application that has gone in.
'My hope is that both the developers and the city council take a common sense approach to the process, in which they both give and take and reach a good outcome.'
Mr Wicks was not, however, optimistic about retail units being filled if the regeneration was approved.
He said: 'You only have to look at the number of empty units already in the city to see how difficult that could be.'
The detailed plans are not expected to be made public until midway through next week.
A spokesman for the city council said: 'Norwich City Council welcomes the receipt of the planning application for the redevelopment of Anglia Square.
'The application will be accompanied by a substantial number of plans, visualisations, technical documents and an environmental statement. 'Once all the material has been fully submitted and validated there will be a formal period of public consultation, during which the details of the proposal can be viewed and comments can be made. At this stage it is expected that this will start by the end of March.'
A previous application to redevelop Anglia Square was scuppered by the credit crunch of 2009.
In 2008, development managers Centenary Ashcroft secured permission for a £100m regeneration of the area.
However, when the credit crunch hit the following year, the plans had to be scaled back and resubmitted in 2011.
The plans had included 174 initial homes, a public square, new shops, restaurants, cafés and a healthcare centre.
The proposal also included a 7.792 square metre foodstore, supported by 507, with Tesco having been in negotiation to take it on.
However, Tesco's interests cooled and the scheme never materialised.
The centre was bought by its current owners - Threadneedle - from the National Asset Management Agency in 2014. It was bought for £7.55m, a considerable reduction on the £36m it was sold for just eight years prior.
The past two years have seen a number of public consultations already held as plans were prepared.