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Architecture author slams Anglia Square revamp proposals

PUBLISHED: 14:33 05 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:33 05 December 2018

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

The author and illustrator of a string of top-selling books about architecture has joined those calling for city councillors to reject the £271m revamp plan for Norwich’s Anglia Square.

Author Matthew Rice. Pic: Archant Library.Author Matthew Rice. Pic: Archant Library.

Matthew Rice, whose books include Building Norfolk, Rice’s Architectural Primer and Village Buildings of Britain, has urged the rejection of the “uninspired and everyday” proposals for the shopping complex.

Developer Weston Homes, with investment firm Columbia Threadneedle, wants to demolish the shopping centre, along with the neighbouring Sovereign House.

The buildings would be replaced with new blocks, including 1,234 new homes, a leisure quarter with a cinema, car parks, the tower block and a new home for Surrey Chapel.

The proposal has been controversial. The city council has received 939 comments on the original proposals and the revised plans. Of that number, 767 objected and 120 supported it.

Objectors include Historic England, the Norwich Society and the Dean and Chapter of Norwich Cathedral. They say the scheme would damage people’s appreciation of the Norman castle, the medieval cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral, City Hall and medieval churches.

However, officers at City Hall are recommending approval when the planning committee meets on Thursday. They say although the development and the tower would cause harm, a “compelling case” had been made, with “economic and social benefits” for the city.

And Mr Rice, who used to live in Norfolk, has joined the debate and written a letter to council leader Alan Waters in which he describes Norwich as “a star among cities”.

He said: “Plans to carry out the most uninspired and everyday (but massive) development on the Anglia Square site are not just a hugely damaging addition to the north of the city, disastrous to its skyline, ill-detailed and unlovely, but a desperately missed opportunity.

“Just when first rate planners and architects have worked out how this can be done beautifully, cleverly , and importantly profitably this most uninteresting and ill scaled design seems likely to be approved by the city’s planning department.”

He implored: “Stop. Wait. This is a once in a generation opportunity to build something important. Norwich deserves better, so much better.”

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