Fight to stop Anglia Square revamp could go to the government
PUBLISHED: 10:56 31 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:41 31 October 2018
The bid to revamp Norwich's Anglia Square has been dealt a potential blow, after watchdog Historic England lodged a fresh objection and signalled it would take its battle to stop the scheme to the government.
Housebuilder Weston Homes, along with landowner Columbia Threadneedle, lodged revised plans for its revamp of the shopping centre with Norwich City Council in September.
But Historic England says the plans would “strike at the character that makes Norwich so special” and is urging councillors to reject them.
The revised scheme saw the height of the controversial 25-storey tower reduced by five storeys.
The developers had said that would “emphasise its slender proportions and reduce its visual impact”, but it has not found favour with Historic England.
The national body, which had objected to the previous proposal, has now submitted its objection to the latest plan.
It says the reduction in the tower’s height “would not materially reduce its impact on Norwich’s character” and it would “remain a prominent and alien feature”, damaging the “wonderful prospect of the cathedral as seen from the Lower Close”.
Describing Norwich as one of England and Europe’s “great historic cities” they warn “if so harmful a development were allowed in so special a place, what protection would any historic city have against similar treatment?
“Historic England consider that the proposed redevelopment of Anglia Square would have an extensive and severe impact on the character and significance of Norwich as an historic place, on the significance of the city’s greatest historic buildings and on that of many others.”
They say the existing buildings “cause much less harm” than the proposed scheme.
And they say, if the council is minded to grant approval, it would refer the case to the National Planning Casework Unit and request that it be called-in for a decision to be made by the Secretary of State.
A spokesman for Weston Homes said: “Having now made substantial changes to the proposals for Anglia Square, Weston Homes is disappointed that Historic England still have objections.”
He added: “Weston Homes are deeply invested in Anglia Square, having already spent in excess of £3.5m on the planning application and consultation.”
They said 68pc of the public supported the application, although the comments lodged with the city council show that there have been 348 objections, compared to 58 in support.
The spokesman said: “Weston Homes believe that the regeneration of Anglia Square will be good for the people and economy of Norwich, and represents a major investment and employment, retail and housing boost for the city.”
Along with the tower, the proposals include 1,200 new homes, dozens of shops, a 200-bed hotel, 600-space car park and pedestrianised areas.