City could lose more office space as bid for 36 new flats is mooted

The Atrium on Merchant's Court in Norwich, which could be partially turned into flats. Picture: Arch

The Atrium on Merchant's Court in Norwich, which could be partially turned into flats. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Several offices in the city centre could be turned into housing, with a fresh bid lodged to convert a prominent building into flats.

Newell Property Development has renewed its bid to convert parts of a building on Merchant’s Court in St Georges Street into a residential development offering 36 new properties - reprising plans submitted three years ago.

Under the proposals, the first and second floors of the building, which is directly next to Jane Austen College, would be converted to provide 34 properties, while a further two homes would be developed on part of the building’s ground floor.

The bid has been split across two applications to Norwich City Council, one of which reprises a scheme that was mooted in 2017 to make use of the top two floors of the building - which is also known as The Atrium.

The application at the time was opposed by the Inspiration Trust, which runs the college next door, with bosses considering the number of flats “significant overdevelopment”.

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However, it remains to be seen if the trust will again object to the proposals, which would deliver the exact same number of flats planned three years ago.

The building, which is also close to Norwich Playhouse, was purchased by Newell Property Development in October 2017 and includes estate agents Brown and Co among its occupants.

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The bid is one of a number of outstanding applications being considered by the city council to convert office space for residential use, in what has become a growing trend in recent years.

In recent weeks, the city council has received bids to convert the Alan Boswell office on Prince of Wales Road into 25 flats and for Vantage House in Fishers Lane to become 44 apartments.In the 2018-19 financial year, 438 properties in Norwich were converted from offices to flats - more than the three prior years combined, with conversions amount for 48pc of all new homes in the city.

And in July, Fakenham-based consultants Ramidus said that since 2013 some 108,938m/sq of office space in the city had secured consent for residential conversion, creating just short of 1,700 flats in return for a loss of 30pc of the city’s office space.

Norwich City Council will consider the new applications in due course.

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