Architecture author says calling in Anglia Square decision could do ‘terrific good’
‘Terrific good’ could be done if communtiies secretary decides to call in the decision to approve the controversial Anglia Square revamp, according to an architecture author.
Norwich City Council’s planning committee voted seven to five in favour of the £271m scheme for the shopping centre complex in December.
But Historic England urged the government to call-in the decision, which could trigger a planning inquiry and lead to communtiies secretary James Brokenshire having the final say on the scheme’s future.
Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle want to demolish the centre and replace it with new blocks, including 1,234 new homes, a leisure quarter with a cinema, car parks, a 200-bed hotel and a new home for Surrey Chapel.
But, with some of the homes in a 20-storey tower, critics had said the scheme would would damage people’s appreciation of the city’s Norman castle, the cathedral, City Hall and medieval churches.
Council officers had acknowledged harm would be done, but said it would be outweighed by the economic and social benefits for the city.
The council has written to the government urging them not to call-in the decision and to allow the locally-made decision to stand, but opponents, including the Norwich Society and the Cathedral, Magdalen and St Augustine’s Forum have been urging civil servants to order a closer look at the decision.
And author and illustrator Matthew Rice, whose books including Building Norfolk, Rice’s Architectural Primer and Village Buildings of Britain, has written to communities secretary James Brokenshire backing a call in.
Mr Rice, who used to live in Norfolk, told Mr Brokenshire he could do “terrific good” for the city by calling in the application.
He said: “I think at the very least this development needs serious and informed questioning. Its effect will outlast any of us and while there can be no doubt that more housing, particularly affordable housing would be of great value to the city I think all other elements of this, in particular its appearance and impact need genuinely objective investigation.
“If a development of this size is given permission in a city as successful and good looking as Norwich, what hope for more compromised sites in less well favoured cities?”