New vision for Anglia Square taking shape as community talks start
- Credit: Weston Homes
Fresh plans for the multi-million pound redevelopment of Anglia Square will be lodged next year - as developers start talking to the community to help forge them.
Weston Homes is about to begin talks with the local community to help develop new plans for the Norwich shopping centre, after a previous £271m proposal was rejected by the secretary of state.
Those controversial plans, which included a 20-storey tower block, more than 1,200 new homes, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops, were approved by Norwich City Council, but were called in by the government.
Although a planning inspector said they should go ahead, secretary of state Robert Jenrick decided not to grant permission.
He said the massing of the individual blocks and the tower would be “uncharacteristic” in the Norwich City Centre Conservation Area and did not fit with policy.
Weston Homes had planned to appeal to the High Court, but dropped that action and pledged to work with the community to come up with a new scheme.
Talks have already been held with Historic England, one of the opponents of the previous scheme, and next week will see community groups and the public invited to discuss what future plans could involve.
The developers have also produced a new image, giving an idea of what a new scheme could look like.
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A spokesperson for Weston Homes said: “As part of the pre-application process to devise new plans, Weston Homes will undertake a consultation programme with key stakeholders and the general public to seek their views.
"This engagement will be taking place alongside communication with Historic England, Homes England and Norwich City Council.
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"Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle look to submit a new planning application for the Anglia Square site in 2022."
People will be able to meet the project team at the Maids Head Hotel in Tombland on Thursday, September 9.
Events will run from 2pm to 5pm and from 6pm to 8pm, while the following day will see a pop-up presentation in Anglia Square from 9am until 12pm.
Alan Waters, leader of Labour-controlled Norwich City Council, welcomed the move to involve the community.
He said: "I commend Weston Homes for opening it up to listen to the views of people, including those who did or did not like previous plans.
"Getting Anglia Square regenerated is one of our top priorities. The area is in desperate need of regeneration and we are short of housing."
Norwich Cycling Campaign objected to the previous scheme, due to concerns over cycle facilities and air quality.
Tony Clarke, from the campaign, said they were keen to speak to the developers about how those concerns would be addressed in any new plans.
Analysis: What next for Anglia Square?
The height of the 20-storey tower was one of the most unpopular aspects of the previous plans.
The fact that secretary of state Mr Jenrick, in rejecting the plans, said that tower was of “excessive size in relation to its context” means developers will have to look to a different solution this time.
During the planning inquiry, the company had argued at least 1,200 residential units was “an essential requirement to achieve economic viability", so it will be interesting to see what number is put forward in a new scheme.
Given behavioural changes triggered by Covid-19, it might be decided that plans to include a cinema in the development is ditched.
Or it could see the number of shops reduced to allow more spread out housing.