Greens and Lib Dems call for Anglia Square decision to go to government
PUBLISHED: 13:23 24 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:05 24 January 2019
Opposition councillors on Norwich City Council have written to the communities secretary urging him to call in the decision to grant permission for the £271m revamp of Anglia Square.
Denise Carlo, Leader of the Green group at City Hall, and James Wright, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, have written a joint letter to James Brokenshire saying the plans are “wholly out of sympathy with the character and grain of the surrounding conservation areas”.
The council’s planning committee voted seven to five in favour of the scheme for the shopping centre complex in December.
But Historic England urged the government to call in the decision, which could trigger a planning inquiry and lead to the communities secretary having the final say on the scheme’s future.
Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle want to demolish the centre and replace it with new blocks, including 1,234 new homes, a leisure quarter with a cinema, car parks, a 200-bed hotel and a new home for Surrey Chapel.
With some of the homes in a 20-storey tower, critics had said the scheme would would damage people’s appreciation of the city’s Norman castle, the cathedral, City Hall and medieval churches.
Council officers acknowledged harm would be done, but said it would be outweighed by the economic and social benefits for the city.
The council has written to the government urging it not to call in the decision and to allow the locally-made decision to stand,
But the opposition councillors, who say they support regeneration but not this scheme, have joined those who have written to ask for all call in.
Mrs Carlo said: “Anglia Square has out-lived its sell-by date and the land adjoining has fallen into dereliction because of past short-sighted planning decisions.
“We mustn’t allow history to repeat itself by accepting glitzy high-rise apartment and retail blocks as a second best solution.
“The current Weston Homes scheme is more in keeping with Manchester city centre than Norwich.”
Mr Wright added, “Not only is the development wholly out of character with historic Norwich - the bland identikit nature of the design adds nothing to our city – but the level of affordable housing is derisory.”