Opponents use Anglia Square decision limbo to restate case over air pollution

Plans for Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes

Plans for Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

Opponents of the controversial £271m revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square shopping centre are taking advantage of the decision delay to hammer home their objections over the scheme.

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick was supposed to make his decision on the scheme at the start of this month, but his department announced “regrettably”, it had been delayed.

No reason was given, nor a date for when one would be made.

Plans for the shopping centre, lodged by Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes, were approved by Norwich City Council’s planning committee in 2018 but were called-in by the government after a request by opponents.

The plans include more than 1,200 new homes, including within a 20-storey tower, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops.

Dr Andrew Boswell. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

Dr Andrew Boswell. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

A public inquiry was held earlier this year and a planning inspector made his recommendation to Mr Jenrick.

In the meantime, the Norwich Cycling Campaign, which opposes the scheme and gave evidence against it at the public inquiry, has written to Mr Jenrick urging him to reject it.

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Dr Andrew Boswell, who highlighted concerns about air pollution at the inquiry said new medical evidence had been produced following the inquiry.

He said: “We challenged the development at the appeal because we were concerned that the plans would lock-in dangerous air pollution for years to come, giving rise to future public health problems in Norwich.

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“A considerable number of medical research papers are now showing that pollution increases the incidence and severity of Covid-19 infection.

“These effects are very sensitive, even to very small increases in particulates, and reflect the sensitivity of the underlying respiratory and cardiac systems to pollution.

“In considering the now delayed Anglia Square decision, we are asking Mr Jenrick to take strong note of the new medical evidence under planning guidance that requires the effects of pollution on health to be fully accounted for in planning decisions.”

At the public inquiry, air quality consultant Melanie Hobson, on behalf of the applicants, said the development would not lead to an “unacceptable risk” from air pollution.

But Dr Boswell had argued that their modelling was “flawed”.

Matt White, who set up the Car-Free Norwich campaign and has long-term lung conditions said he was “terrified” of the prospect of increased air pollution.

He said: “Due to my long-standing lung conditions (bronchiectasis and asthma), there are times when I feel trapped in my home by air pollution.

“Even when this is not the case, I’m often extremely anxious about air pollution levels, especially around Anglia Square.

“I know both from my studies and first hand experience that air pollution is extremely dangerous for me, and I constantly measure air quality levels with my personal monitor.”

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