Inquiry over controversial Anglia Square revamp will not be held until next year

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The planning inquiry over the controversial revamp of Norwich's Anglia Square shopping centre will not take place until next year, it has been confirmed.

And, when the inquiry is held at the end of January 2020, it is estimated it will last for at least 16 days. It would then be likely to take months before a decision is made on whether the £271m scheme can go ahead.

Norwich City Council's planning committee voted, by seven votes to five, to approve the plan by developer Weston Homes, in December last year.

But communities secretary James Brokenshire decided to call in the matter after a request to do so by objectors, including Historic England.

Concerns had been raised over the impact of the development, with its 20-storey tower, on Norwich's character.

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

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

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The Norwich Society, the St Augustine's Community Together Residents' Association, the Cathedral Magdalen and St Augustine's Forum and the Dean and Chapter of Norwich Cathedral had all objected to the scheme.

The plans would see the 1960s-built shopping centre and neighbouring Sovereign House demolished.

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They would be replaced with new blocks, including 1,234 new homes, a cinema, car parks, a 200-bed hotel and a new home for Surrey Chapel.

When City Hall officers recommended permission be granted, they had said although the development and the tower would cause harm, a "compelling case" had been made, with "economic and social benefits" for the city.

Planning inspector David Prentis has been appointed to oversee the inquiry, with the start date of the inquiry confirmed as Tuesday, January 28.

While a venue has yet to be confirmed, it is estimated the inquiry will run for 16 days, from January 28 to February 14 and then from February 25 until February 28.

The planning inquiry will consider evidence from the council, the developers and interested parties. The inspector will then made a recommendation to the communities secretary.

The target date for when that recommendation will be made is likely to be confirmed within 10 days of the end of the inquiry.

Mr Brokenshire can then choose to follow that advice, or reject it.

A spokesman for Weston Homes said the company was waiting to seeing how the Anglia Square inquiry unfolded and was also reviewing its options.

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