Former Norwich Union offices to be turned into homes

PUBLISHED: 07:48 29 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:11 29 September 2020

Bignold House, in Surrey Street, is to be turned into homes. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Bignold House, in Surrey Street, is to be turned into homes. Picture: BRITTANY WOODMAN


A centuries-old city centre building, which once belonged to Norwich Union, is to be turned into homes.

Bignold House in Surrey Street, pictured in 1979. Pic: Archant Library.Bignold House in Surrey Street, pictured in 1979. Pic: Archant Library.

Bignold House, on Surrey Street in Norwich became part of the insurance giant’s estate in 1819 – 190 years before the company was rebranded as Aviva.

Designed by John Soane, the Grade II*-listed building was completed around 1764 and was originally used as a mansion house.

It was bought by the company to serve a mixed use – as offices and as the family home of company founder Thomas Bignold’s son Samuel.

But the building has been empty since 2014, which led to an application to Norwich City Council to change its use from offices into housing.

Plans to convert it were lodged with City Hall by Lanpro, on behalf of Bignold Estates Ltd.

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And planning officers at the council have granted permission for it to be turned into a mixture of one- and two-bedroom flats and a single townhouse - consisting of 14 properties in total.

It means the building can be turned into four studio apartments, six one-bedroom apartments, three two-bedroom apartments and a single four-bedroom townhouse.

Civic watchdog the Norwich Society had strongly supported the proposals, although they did have some concerns over the level of detail lodged with the applications and that some harm would be caused by the internal alterations.

But they said they were “pleased to see this imposing building being brought back into use and a residential conversion is an appropriate outcome for this house”.

The decision to grant permission for the conversion was made by planning officers at the city council, using delegated powers.

In granting permission, they said the internal changes would cause a “degree of harm”, but that was “less than substantial” and outweighed by the benefits.

Officers said: “The proposal is considered to represent the optimum viable use that will assist in enabling the refurbishment and future upkeep of this Grade II* listed building.

“In addition it will secure the delivery of 14 new homes in a sustainable location, bringing new vitality to a building which has been vacant for a number of years.”

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