Search

D-Day for Anglia Square as councillors are told government could have final say

PUBLISHED: 11:58 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:58 06 December 2018

Sovereign House would be demolished under the proposals for Anglia Square.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sovereign House would be demolished under the proposals for Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

The government has told Norwich City Council that, if councillors grant permission for the controversial £271m redevelopment of Norwich’s Anglia Square, the final decision could be taken out of their hands.

Members of the council’s planning committee have started their deliberations over the future of the shopping complex.

But City Hall’s head of planning Graham Nelson started the meeting by explaining that should the committee vote in favour, it would only be approval in principle.

That is because Historic England had requested that the matter be considered for a ‘call-in’ for a final decision by communities secretary James Brokenshire.

It means civil servants would, if the committee grants approval, have to consider whether they think the decision should rest with the council or with the secretary of state.

Councillors at the crunch Anglia Square meeting in Norwich. Picture Dan Grimmer.Councillors at the crunch Anglia Square meeting in Norwich. Picture Dan Grimmer.

But Mr Nelson said, if the committee votes to reject the proposal, there would be no such constraint.

Developer Weston Homes, with investment firm Columbia Threadneedle, has applied 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, a 200-bed hotel, the tower block and a new home for Surrey Chapel.

Objectors have been trying to convince city councillors to turn down the proposals.

A decision over the plans for Anglia Square will be taken on Thursday, December 6.  Photo: Weston HomesA decision over the plans for Anglia Square will be taken on Thursday, December 6. Photo: Weston Homes

John Neale, from Historic England, said the scheme would be “profoundly damaging” to Norwich, which he describes as “one of Europe’s great cities”.

Former Norwich North Labour MP Ian Gibson said the 120 affordable homes in the Anglia Square scheme is not enough.

He said the council should be pushing for more.

James Brown, who leads architecture courses at NUA, said: “Its not acceptabl for our city to capitulate to the belief that doing anything is better than doing nothing”.

He said the applicant and city could do better.

Gail Mayhew, chair of the Cathedral Magdalen & St Augustine’s Neighbourhood Forum said: “The proposed scheme disrespects the community which surrounds it. It disrespects Norwich.”

Architect Michael Innes, who designed Castle Mall and oversaw the revamp of Norwich Market, said the scheme would be a “mistake”.

He said high rise towers had been discredited and said such “speculative audacity” should be rejected.

Ahead of the meeting the city council received 939 comments on the original proposals and the revised plans - which included the tower’s height being cut from 25 storeys to 20 storeys.

Of those who submitted comments during the planning process, 767 objected to the plans and 120 supported them.

But officers at City Hall have recommended approval.

Officers said, although the development and the tower would cause harm, a “compelling case” had been made, with “economic and social benefits” for the city.

They said, once Anglia Square is revamped and re-opened, there would be 536 to 763 full and part-time jobs in the shops, offices, bars, hotel and so on. There are currently about 200 to 250 jobs there.

The revamp of the complex, which would include the demolition of Sovereign House, would take an estimated eight years to complete.

The developer has said the work will be done in phases.

It also has a separate application in to create ‘pop up’ units in shipping containers under Magdalen Street flyover, which could be used by displaced retailers during construction work.

Columbia Threadneedle has said all existing tenants will be given the opportunity to agree commercial terms to stay in the new look square.

And they have indicated that they will seek to retain as many as possible of the existing tenants within the scheme, with discussions about Boots, Poundland and Shoe Zone among those which have taken place already.

Objectors have been trying to convince city councillors to turn down the proposals.

John Neale, from Historic England, said the scheme would be “profoundly damaging” to Norwich, which he describes as “one of Europe’s great cities”.

Former Norwich North Labour MP Ian Gibson said the 120 affordable homes in the Anglia Square scheme is not enough.

He said the council should be pushing for more.

James Brown, who leads architecture courses at NUA, said: “Its not acceptable for our city to capitulate to the belief that doing anything is better than doing nothing”.

He said the applicant and city could do better.

Gail Mayhew, chair of the Cathedral Magdalen & St Augustine’s Neighbourhood Forum said: “The proposed scheme disrespects the community which surrounds it. It disrespects Norwich.”

Architect Michael Innes, who designed Castle Mall and oversaw the revamp of Norwich Market, said the scheme would be a “mistake”.

He said high rise towers had been discredited and said such “speculative audacity” should be rejected.

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Latest from the EDP

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 5°C

min temp: 0°C

Listen to the latest weather forecast