Vision for multi-million pound new Norwich venue revealed
- Credit: Ellis Williams Architects
Plans for a major new multi-million pound venue in the heart of Norwich, which could create hundreds of jobs, have been revealed.
Developers have outlined their vision for the new venue, called Block Norwich, which they want to create on land off Mountergate.
The initial phase - which would see an investment of up to £1m - would be to build an enclosed and heated auditorium, featuring a 300-seat arena, an 18-metre screen, a performance stage and a food court.
The venue would be constructed using shipping containers - a style which has proved successful in locations such as Pop Brixton in London and Stackt in Toronto.
The idea is that, as well as serving food and alcohol, the venue would be a place where people head for entertainment, such as live music, DJs, special themed events or to watch sports on the big screen.
There are also plans for amusements and fairground rides for adults and children.
Developers - Team Partner 3, The Clear Idea and SY Foods - have applied to Norwich City Council for temporary permission for nine months.
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But they are hoping, once established, the venue could remain for longer and be expanded, with a 10-year-lease on the land, next to Rose Lane multi-storey car park.
The plans also include 40 retail units, with a promenade avenue from the Mountergate entrance.
Units would be available for rent for food, drink, crafts and other pop up businesses.
Developers are also considering a number of 'experiences' and exhibitions - which could push the total investment closer to £4m.
They say up to 500 jobs could be created.
The proposed hours would be 10am to 11pm on Monday to Thursday, with earlier closing at 10pm subject to demand.
On Fridays and Saturdays it would be open from 10am until midnight and from 10am until 11pm on Sundays.
The people behind Block Norwich are Paul Gregg, from Team partner 3, James Bradbury, managing director of Teampartner Three and Jonathan Bramley, managing director of The Clear Idea.
Mr Gregg is a multi-millionaire who created the Apollo Leisure Group of theatres and cinemas and was once a major share holder in Everton football club.
Mr Bradbury, who has a home in Norfolk, is a former store operations manager at Harrods in London and an ex-director of Madam Tussaud's.
He has recently been working on award-winning entertainment events and projects in the Middle East.
He said those experiences in Saudi Arabia and Dubai had highlighted a need to create jobs for highly trained, qualified people who wanted to move into careers in entertainment, food and retail.
He said: "We see Block Norwich as a brand new entertainment destination for the city.
"We wanted to create an entertainment concept where guests can experience the very best quality food and drink, whilst enjoying fabulous entertainment.
"Norwich has fantastic universities and the catering courses at City College Norwich, so there are lots of highly skilled, educated people who would love the opportunity to excel in the careers we will offer."
He said Block Norwich would help to create new jobs and rejuvenate the city centre as it recovers from the effects of the Covid pandemic.
He said he wanted to create a venue which "everyone in Norwich can be proud of".
There would be two entrances to the site, via Mountergate and Rose Lane.
While government guidance on social distancing exists measures will be in place to ensure that happens, but the hope is that, should restrictions be eased, capacity could be increased.
The developers say staff will make sure customers leave the venue in on time at the end of each evening and will be encouraged to leave quietly.
The existing community garden on the site would be retained.
Proposals were lodged with the council this week and the developers hope to get permission in time for the venue to open in September.
If permission is granted, then the developers hope to work with their partners Peppermint Events to bring a flavour of London's South Bank to the city.
Peppermint Events have been running the Between The Bridges event on the bank of the Thames, which has featured sets from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay and Erol Alkan.
Mr Bradbury said he hoped elements of that event could be brought to Norwich for the September launch.
Mountergate is an area Norwich City Council has long wanted to see regenerated.