Claim that coronavirus has made £271m Anglia Square revamp ‘untenable’

PUBLISHED: 14:38 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:39 22 July 2020

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

The impact of coronavirus has made the proposed £271m revamp of Anglia Square untenable, according to Green councillors who are urging government minister Robert Jenrick to turn down the scheme.

The Anglia Square proposals, by Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes, which include 1,200 new homes in a 20-storey tower, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops were approved by Norwich City Council in 2018.

But, at the request of opponents concerned over its impact on the heritage of Norwich, the matter was called in by the government – triggering a four-week planning inquiry.

Following that inquiry, planning inspector Dave Prentis has submitted a recommendation on whether or not the scheme should go ahead, with the final decision to be made by the communities secretary Mr Jenrick.

But Green Party councillors in Norwich have written to Mr Jenrick urging him to say no to the scheme, saying the impact of coronavirus has made the scheme unviable.

Denise Carlo, Green city councillor for Nelson ward, said: “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the case for the proposed development at Anglia Square was only marginally viable. The fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic has made, in our view, the scheme untenable.

The Anglia Square revamp plans include a 20-storey tower. Photo: Weston HomesThe Anglia Square revamp plans include a 20-storey tower. Photo: Weston Homes

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“It would benefit no one if the oldest part of the most intact medieval city in Britain were to be sacrificed for a new white elephant development that is of little relevance for a post-COVID economy.”

Ms Carlo said coronavirus had “accelerated” a move to on-line shopping and that the pandemic was also likely to make tower block living less popular.

The scheme is already due to benefit from public subsidy to make it viable, Ms Carlo said.

Green city councillor Denise Carlo. Picture: Neil DidsburyGreen city councillor Denise Carlo. Picture: Neil Didsbury

That includes a £15m grant from Homes England and potentially being excused from paying around £9m in Community Infrastructure Fund money, following a decision by the city council the month before permission was granted.

Ms Carlo said: “Anything that affects the viability, such as the impacts of COVID-19 on the retail and housing elements, will push a ‘marginal’ viability to an ‘untenable’ viability.”

Weston Homes did not want to comment.

Mr Jenrick has to make a decision over the scheme by September 7.

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