Wall of 19th century iron foundry at centre of row over new Norwich housing

The former iron foundry wall which is at the centre of a planning row. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

The former iron foundry wall which is at the centre of a planning row. Pic: Dan Grimmer. - Credit: Archant

The wall of a former Norwich iron foundry has been thrust into the centre of a row over new housing.

Developers want to knock it down as part of their plans to build new homes, but neighbours and conservationists say its demolition would destroy part of the city's industrial heritage.

Wensum Homes secured planning permission in February to demolish a former car showroom in Duke Street, so they can build 37 apartments.

But the developer has now asked Norwich City Council if the wall which runs along the back of the site, near the Church of St Michael Coslany, can be knocked down - which was not part of the original plan.

And that has sparked opposition from neighbours and Historic England.


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David Eve, inspector of historic buildings and areas for Historic England, has written to City Hall to object, saying: 'Not only is this imposing wall an important relic of the 19th century industrial activity on the site, which is a characteristic of the wider Coslany and Colgate area, but the use of brick and round headed arches is reflected in other historic building and more recent construction around it.

'Because of its significance we consider the demolition of the boundary wall now proposed to be harmful to the historic significance of the conservation area and to diminish the positive qualities of the new development of which it forms a part.'

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The city council's assistant conservation and design officer has also recommended permission be refused.

The developers' contractors had recommended against integrating the walls into the new construction. Wensum Homes are looking at reconstructing the wall once it is demolished, but warn salvaging many of the original bricks would be difficult.

One objector, in their submission to the city council, wrote: 'I realise that to most people this is simply an old and tired wall. But to residents of St Miles Alley, it is a structure that we live alongside day by day and somewhere where we sit, meet and chat.

'It will be forever changed by this development which we have had to accept.

'But now, to add insult to injury, the wall itself is to be taken away and replaced by a characterless and soulless modern one.'

A decision will be made by the council in due course.

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