Call to save shields on Norwich’s Westlegate House

Civic watchdogs have called for the shields which adorn a city centre tower block to be preserved as part of a proposed revamp of the building.

Plans to breathe new life into Westlegate House, considered by many to be one of the city's biggest eyesores, were lodged with Norwich City Council earlier this month.

The proposals for the building, which has been semi-derelict for more than 14 years, would see the former office building transformed into apartments.

But the Norwich Society and the 20th Century Society have questioned what will happen to the heraldic shields which cover one wall of the 11-storey building.

Vicky Manthorpe. from the Norwich Society, said: 'We are strongly in favour of saving and restoring the heraldic shields and flint work panels on the west facade if possible, having examined them more carefully and realised how extensive and detailed they are. They appear to be in fairly good condition.

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'The Norwich Society considers the shields and flint work panels to be important character features that have contributed to the area's character for a number of years. We are therefore requesting that the shields and flint work be retained, through a planning condition.'

Henrietta Billings, senior case worker for the 20th Century Society, wrote to the city council to state the organisation was 'intrigued' by the shields.

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She said: 'We would encourage the applicant to investigate options for incorporating the panel in some way into the facade of the new development.'

Two extra floors would be created at the top of the building, in Westlegate, while each floor would contain a single apartment, with 360 degree views of Norwich, taking in the castle, the cathedral and City Hall.

The developers behind the schemes said the designs for the building, which dates back to the 1960s, offered a 'scheme of real quality', with the existing building encased in glass and panels.

But Ian Fox, director of FW Properties, said: 'Through our investigations, we haven't found any particular historical significance relating to the shields within Westlegate House.'

English Heritage has said it broadly supports the scheme. While the heritage body would rather see the tower knocked down, they acknowledge there is an environmental argument for it being reused.

A decision on the application will be made at a future meeting of the city council's planning committee.

• What do you think of the plans for Westlegate House? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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