Anglia Square £271m revamp decision delayed after government misses deadline

PUBLISHED: 17:58 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:03 07 September 2020

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

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

Weston Homes

The wait over the fate of the controversial £271m revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square shopping centre goes on, after the deadline for the decision was missed by the government.

The planning inquiry into Anglia Square, at City Hall. Picture: ArchantThe planning inquiry into Anglia Square, at City Hall. Picture: Archant

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick had until today (Monday, September 7) to issue his decision on one of the most contentious – and largest – developments in Norwich for decades.

But Mr Jenrick’s government department - the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government - announced he would not be publishing his decision yet.

In a letter to interested parties, decision officer Andrew Lynch wrote: “I am writing to let you know that, regrettably, the secretary of state will not be in a position to publish a decision by this date.

“I realise this will be disappointing news, and apologise for the delay in issuing a final decision on this case.

Anglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYAnglia Square. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I can assure you that we will endeavour to minimise the delay as much as possible.”

Plans for the shopping centre, lodged by Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes, had been approved by Norwich City Council’s planning committee in 2018.

Those plans include more than 1,200 new homes, including within a 20-storey tower, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops.

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But the proposals attracted fierce criticism, due to the massing and height and its impact on the historic city skyscape, including on Norwich Cathedral.

While City Hall officers had conceded that the revamp scheme would cause harm, they had said that was outweighed by social and economic benefits.

The council’s planning committee voted in favour, by seven votes to five.

However, the matter was called in by the government at the request of opponents, including heritage watchdog Historic England.

That call-in triggered a four week planning inquiry into the issues, which was held at City Hall in January and February.

Historic England, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the Norwich Society, the Norwich Cycling Campaign, and the Cathedral Magdalen and St Augustine’s Forum were among objectors.

They sought to persuade the inspector to recommend that the scheme should not be given the green light.

Planning inspector David Prentis weighed up the evidence presented at the inquiry and handed his recommendation on whether the scheme should go ahead or not to the government earlier in the summer.

Earlier this year, Mr Jenrick was caught up in controversy over his decision to permit The Westferry Printworks redevelopment in London.

In the summer, his government department announced proposals for sweeping reforms of the planning system to speed up development, which came under fire from opponents.

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