Rallying cry for public to join fight to stop Anglia Square revamp

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Seven heritage organisation have called on the developers of Anglia Square to reconsider controversial proposals ahead of next month's public inquiry into whether it should be permitted.

And a rallying call has been issued to members of the public to attend a meeting where concerns about the £271m revamp will be aired by opponents and critics of the scheme.

Weston Homes was granted permission by Norwich City Council's planning committee last year to transform Anglia Square.

Permission was granted for 1,234 new homes, including within a 20-storey tower, a leisure quarter with a cinema and a 200-bed hotel.

But, amid objections, including from Historic England, concerned about the impact on historic buildings such as the cathedral, it was called-in by the government.

The plans for Anglia Square include a 20-storey tower. Photo: Weston Homes

The plans for Anglia Square include a 20-storey tower. Photo: Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

That triggered a planning inquiry, which starts on January 28 and will last for three weeks.

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Afterwards, the inspector will make a recommendation on whether it should go ahead or not. The secretary of state can follow that recommendation, or ignore it.

But heritage organisations recently wrote an open letter, published in The Times, calling for the plans to be reconsidered.

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It was signed by SAVE Britain's Heritage, The Georgian Group, The Norwich Society, Ancient Monuments Society, The Victorian Society, World Monuments Fund Britain, the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

Paul Burall from the Norwich Society. Pic: Bob Hobbs.

Paul Burall from the Norwich Society. Pic: Bob Hobbs. - Credit: Archant

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain's Heritage, said: "We are not against its redevelopment, but this city deserves better.

"We believe the square can be redeveloped in a much more sympathetic way with low-rise streets and squares, similar in scale to Goldsmith Street which was awarded the prestigious Stirling Prize."

And a public meeting will be held at The Forum in Norwich, where groups will explain their objections. It will take place from 5.30pm on Tuesday, January 14.

Paul Burall, from the Norwich Society, said: "We are supporting this to explain to the public the devastating effect that the proposed development would have on the surrounding area and the importance of the public inquiry."

Weston Homes and Anglia Square owners Columbia Threadneedle intend to present evidence the proposal does not "cause harm" to heritage assets and say the tower will enhance the townscape.This is what the letter published in The Times said: Sir, Richard Morrison (Times2, Dec 13) is right to draw attention to the plan to redevelop Anglia Square in Norwich.

A 20-storey residential tower is being proposed for the square by Columbia Threadneedle Investments and Weston Homes.

If built, the tower would have a calamitous effect on the character of this magnificent medieval city: at 60m, it would be the tallest building after the cathedral.

We believe the square could be redeveloped in a different way, with low-rise streets and squares, similar in scale to the neighbouring award-winning Goldsmith Street, which would unlock public benefits without harming Norwich's historic character. Historic England, Norwich Cathedral, the Churches Conservation Trust, the Norwich Society and many others have objected.

We are not against the redevelopment of Anglia Square but this city deserves better. We urge the developers to reconsider.

Henrietta Billings, SAVE Britain's Heritage; David Adshead, Georgian Group; Paul Burall, Norwich Society; Lucie Carayon, Ancient Monuments Society; Chris Costelloe, Victorian Society; John Darlington, World Monuments Fund Britain; Dame Fiona Reynolds, Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England; Matthew Slocombe, Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

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