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Anglia Square a ‘dismal experience’ says architect behind £271m revamp

PUBLISHED: 14:33 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 14:33 04 February 2020

The entrance to Anglia Square was described as like

The entrance to Anglia Square was described as like "some sort of hostile watchtower". Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The architect behind the controversial £271m revamp of Anglia Square has branded it a “dismal experience” to visit the shopping centre in its current “broken” state.

Plans for a 20-storey tower in Anglia Square. Photo: Weston HomesPlans for a 20-storey tower in Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes

Peter Vaughan, from London-based Broadway Malyan, designed the Norwich shopping centre redevelopment scheme, which is the focus of a planning inquiry.

The scheme includes more than 1,200 new homes, including in a 20-storey tower, along with a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops.

Mr Vaughan told the inquiry the approach to Anglia Square, under the flyover on Magdalen Street, was "about as poor an approach to a shopping centre as you can think of."

He said the entrance to the square from Magdalen Street was "horribly aggressive" and more like "some kind of hostile watchtower".

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAnglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said entering the square was "a pretty dismal experience" and it was "a broken piece of Norwich".

He said: "One needs to be careful about how one talks about Anglia Square. It's easy to talk about regeneration and transformation, but there are local people for whom this is a phenomenal offer. It works for them both socially and financially."

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But he added: "I genuinely believe people deserve better than what is on offer here and better is available to them."

He said his scheme would create better links to the rest of the city and its scale, including the tower, was necessary to make it deliverable.

He was cross-examined by lawyers for national heritage organisation Historic England over the design choices, but defended his architectural decisions.

The plans were agreed by Norwich City Council in 2018. But the planning inquiry was triggered after Historic England asked for a government call-in.

They had objected due to the massing and height of the revamp - and its impact on the historic city skyscape, including Norwich Cathedral.

Other critics include SAVE Britain's Heritage, the Norwich Society and Norwich Cycling Campaign.

After planning inspector Dave Prentis has heard evidence at the inquiry, which continues until the end of the month, he will come up with a recommendation for the secretary of state, who has the final decision.

MORE: Historic England's 'sky garden' vision for Anglia Square

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