What is this mystery tower that has sprung up in Norwich?

Mystery tower in Norwich

Tower that has been put up near the junction of Pitt Street and St Crispin roundabout in Norwich. - Credit: Simon Parkin

A mysterious tower looming over a busy Norwich roundabout could stand for at least 18 months. 

The 15m high metal tower appeared on land on Pitt Street, close to the St Crispin junction, shortly before Christmas leaving locals baffled after it appeared without explanation.

Norwich tower

The metal tower appeared on land on Pitt Street, close to the St Crispin junction, shortly before Christmas. - Credit: Simon Parkin

Mobile networks EE and Three have now confirmed the telecommunications tower is to support masts that are being moved from their previous location on top of nearby St Crispins House.

The 1970s Duke Street office building, abandoned after once housing The Stationery Office, is currently undergoing a dramatic £42m transformation into a new 684-bed student accommodation block.

EE said rigging work on the tower is expected to be completed by end of this month and the site is forecasted to be activated for 2G/3G/4G for EE and 3G/4G for Three UK in February. 

It is not related to the roll-out of 5G.

St Crispins House

Masts are being relocated from St Crispins House which is currently undergoing a £42m renovation into student accommodation. - Credit: Simon Parkin

The switching on of the temporary mast will boost coverage which has been affected by the loss of masts on top of St Crispins House.

An EE spokesperson said: “We’re upgrading one of our shared masts with Three to deliver enhanced coverage and improved 4G signal to residents in Norwich. 

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“We apologise for any inconvenience caused whilst we work to restore full coverage as quickly as possible.”

The telecommunications tower at Pitt Street is temporary for up to for 18 months.

The telecommunications tower at Pitt Street is temporary for up to for 18 months. - Credit: Simon Parkin

The tower has been put up without needing planning permission. 

Under the electronic communications code, telecommunications operators have wide ranging powers to implement such temporary masts on vacant land.

The empty plot of land at Pitt Street was previously leased for intermittent parking to the Redeemed Christian Church of God, whose place of worship is on neighbouring Chatham Street.

The church’s pastor Taiwo Awobajo said the first they had known about the tower was when it was already constructed.

“We have not been given any choice,” he said. “We didn’t want it, but at the end of the day we cannot do anything about it.”

An artist's impression of how the new student accommodation will look at St Crispin's House

An artist's impression of how the new student accommodation will look at St Crispin's House - Credit: Contributed

The temporary nature of the new tower means it is a 'permitted development', however planning permission would be required for a permanent mast on the location.

The new St Crispin’s House will provide a mix of student accommodation and will feature common rooms, a gym, a multipurpose event room, study spaces and a laundry.