Broadway Malyan’s revised proposals to build a tower in the heart of Norwich are set to go ahead, despite Historic England’s claim that the scheme would ‘radically disrupt’ the cityscape
The £270 million scheme for Weston Homes and landowner Columbia Threadneedle includes 1,250 flats on a shopping centre in Anglia Square and has been recommended for approval by city planners.
The development of the 4.5ha city centre site, to be decided on Thursday (6 December) will see existing 1960s buildings demolished to make way for the homes, alongside 11,000m² retail and commercial space, a 200-bed hotel, a new cinema and a new home for Surrey Chapel.
The scheme’s centrepiece is a 20-storey high-rise with 70 homes, which was cut back by five storeys after protests from Historic England earlier this year.
But despite the changes, the heritage watchdog remains resolutely opposed to the development, issuing a strongly worded letter arguing the plans would ‘severely harm the city’s extraordinary historic character’.
Its east of England planning director, John Neale, said: ‘Norwich is one of Europe’s great historic cities containing more medieval churches than any city north of the Alps and has large numbers of exceptional historic buildings, streets and spaces rich in character.
Norwich deserves so much better
‘While we recognise Anglia Square is in need of redevelopment, this 20-storey tower is certainly not the answer. Despite the reduction in height from 25 to 20 storeys, it would still remain a prominent and alien feature.’
He added: ‘Norwich deserves so much better.’
Objections have also been sent by the Norwich Society, Norwich Cathedral, The Council for British Archaeology, and SAVE Britain’s Heritage.
But Norwich planning officers have argued that the existing shopping centre is ‘outdated’ and its visible signs of vacancy and dereliction both ‘blight the image’ of the city centre and send a negative message to the development sector.
The officers said: ‘The cumulative harm identified above is to some extent offset by other beneficial aspects of the development for the historic environment. These benefits have been scarcely acknowledged by Historic England.’
Historic England has said that if Norwich City Council approves the scheme this Thursday, it will ask the secretary of state to intervene.
Weston Homes and Broadway Malyan have been approached for comment.