Allowing Anglia Square revamp would be 'utter disgrace', says campaign group
PUBLISHED: 17:29 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 10 December 2019
Archant Norfolk 2018
It would be an "utter disgrace" if the revamp of Norwich's Anglia Square, complete with 20-storey tower, is allowed to happen, a national campaign group has warned.
A three-week public inquiry into whether Norwich City Council was right to grant planning permission for the £271m redevelopment starts next month.
City Hall's planning committee agreed permission to Weston Homes for the redevelopment of the shopping complex - including 1,234 new homes, a leisure quarter with a cinema, car parks and a 200-bed hotel - a year ago.
But the government announced it was calling in the decision, after a request from Historic England, which feared the impact of the development - and its 20-storey tower - on the character of Norwich.
Campaign group SAVE Britain's Heritage will appear at the inquiry, alongside Historic England and civic watchdog The Norwich Society.
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain's Heritage says: "England's proud medieval cathedrals have dominated many of the country's finest and most historic cities for centuries.
"It is nothing short of an utter disgrace that at the beginning of the third millennium their undisputed glories should be dimmed and diminished in this crude fashion."
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Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE Britain's Heritage says: "Norwich's status as one of the most important medieval cities in England and in northern Europe is undisputed.
"Its skyline is a crucial and widely appreciated part of its character. As the award-winning low-rise Goldsmith Street scheme, built less than one mile from Anglia Square shows, context is everything.
Norwich City Council can and should demand better.
Alec Forshaw, former principal of conservation and design at Islington Borough Council, will act for SAVE Britain's Heritage at the inquiry.
In his submission, he states: "The proposal is a mega-structure completely alien to its context and the character of medieval and pre-war Norwich. It replaces a failed example of a 1960s comprehensive redevelopment with something that promises to be even more disastrous."
Weston Homes/Columbia Threadneedle have submitted a 294-page statement of case to the inspectors, outlining how they intend to give evidence.
They will argue the proposal does not "cause harm" to heritage assets in the southern part of the city, including the cathedrals, St Peter Mancroft, Guildhall and City Hall. They will argue the tower will enhance the townscape.
The inquiry starts on January 28. Afterwards, the inspector will make a recommendation if the scheme should go ahead or not, which the secretary of state could follow or ignore.