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Norwich council approves Weston's revised plans for Anglia Square

28 Apr 23 Weston Homes has secured planning permission for its plans to redevelop Norwich city centre.

Weston Homes' Grounded in Norwich vision
Weston Homes' Grounded in Norwich vision

Weston Homes has gained a resolution to grant planning permission for its part full/part outline planning application made to Norwich City Council for the redevelopment of the 4.65 hectare (11.5 acre) Anglia Square site in Norwich.

The scheme will see the demolition of a 1960s shopping centre and the construction of 1,100 new homes ranging across buildings of between three and eight storeys, designed around inner courtyards, a public square and a pedestrian precinct.

The resolution to grant planning follows seven years of battling between Weston Homes and the people of Norwich. Weston was forced to rethink its earlier plan, conceived in 2018, for a 20-storey tower block. That plan got council approval too... causing an uproar.

The 2018 proposals were then called in by the secretary of state. A public inquiry was held, resulting in the planning inspector agreeing with the council and recommending that planning permission should be granted. But the then secretary of state, Robert Jenrick, was sensitive to local opposition to the scheme and blocked it.

Planned public realm in Anglia Square
Planned public realm in Anglia Square

Forced back to the drawing board, Weston Homescame up with a new scheme, Grounded in Norwich, which it says “reinstates the historic street pattern that existed during the Victorian era to deliver a new high-quality neighbourhood for Norwich”.

 As part of the local consent, Weston Homes will now take over ownership of the Anglia Square site from current landowner Columbia Threadneedle. Although there are several hurdles to be finalised, Weston Homes hopes to start work within the next few months. 

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The new Anglia Square will provide for up to 1,100 homes of mixed tenure and up to 8,000 sq m (86,111 sq ft) of non-residential floorspace in addition to a community hub, community hall, new employment floorspace for a range of businesses, public toilets and accessible changing place facility. There will be up to 450 car parking spaces, 1,888 cycle bays and a north/south cycle path through the site.

The planned civic centre ('community hub')
The planned civic centre ('community hub')

Weston Homes say that over the last seven years the world has changed dramatically with the rise in digital retailing enabling Weston Homes to relook at all elements of the commercial viability of the scheme.

The initial phase comprises 279 market sale, 58 social rent and 16 shared ownership properties. A further 747 homes are included in the plans, with the final residential mix to be determined through subsequent reserved matters applications.

Bob Weston, chairman and managing director of Weston Homes, said: “We have learnt so much from this project, through going back to the drawing board, consulting locally and designing a domestic scale scheme with features led by the aspirations of the people of Norwich rather than Weston Homes. We are looking forward to beginning the delivery of this fantastic new development for the people of Norwich.”

Not everyone is so pleased, however.

Historic England regional director Tony Calladine said: “We are disappointed that an extraordinary opportunity has been missed in Norwich. A redevelopment of Anglia Square at an appropriate scale for the historic area could have done much to create a vibrant and exciting space which at the same time complemented and enhanced the city’s historic character. The scale and mass of this development is too big for Norwich. The architectural character is at odds with the historic city. It’s deeply disappointing that the suggested alternative approaches have not been considered and the opportunity to create an innovative, people-focussed, characterful and considered development, has been missed.”

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