Over to you - fate of Anglia Square now in hands of two men

PUBLISHED: 17:31 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:26 29 February 2020

Plans for a 20-storey tower in Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes

Plans for a 20-storey tower in Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes

Weston Homes

The future of Anglia Square now rests in the hands of people miles away from Norwich - after a public inquiry into its £271m redevelopment came to an end.

After four weeks of hearing evidence for and against the revamp, planning inspector David Prentis will decide whether to recommend if it should go ahead or not.

The final decision rests with the government's Secretary of State Robert Jenrick, who can back the recommendation or ignore it.

The proposals, by Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes, were approved by Norwich City Council in December 2018.

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

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library.Local government secretary Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library.

But critics objected, due to the massing and height of the revamp and its impact on the historic city skyscape, including Norwich Cathedral.

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While council officers conceded harm would be done, they said it was outweighed by social and economic benefits.

But, at the request of opponents, including heritage watchdog Historic England, the matter was called in by the government - triggering the inquiry.

Planning inspector Dave Prentis. Pic: Archant.Planning inspector Dave Prentis. Pic: Archant.

Air pollution, viability, affordable housing, traffic and the impact of the scheme on the city have come under the spotlight during the inquiry.

Yesterday, final submissions were made, when Russell Harris, QC, for the applicants, said: "The time has come to meet the challenges posed by the requirement to assist a part of Norwich and its population that the 21st Century left behind."

But Guy Williams, for Historic England, said: "The single biggest failing of the scheme is the site represents an opportunity to enhance the conservation area, but the scheme does the very opposite."

SAVE Britain's Heritage urged the inspector not to allow permission, while Paul Burall, from the Norwich Society, said: "The disbenefits of a poorly designed scheme that is totally out of character with the surrounding area are likely to cause considerable damage to the overall economy of Norwich."

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

But Timothy Corner, QC, for the city council, said: "Anglia Square has detracted from the city centre for too long and attempts to secure redevelopment have failed over the past 20 years."

It is likely to be months before the secretary of state decides.

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