Plea to Anglia Square developers to guard against ‘complete loss’ of medieval remains
Developers behind plans to build more than 1,200 homes at Anglia Square are being urged to guard against the “complete loss” of medieval remains around the former churches of St Botolph and St Olave.
When the current centre was built in 1967, skeletal remains were uncovered at the site of the old church and its burial grounds, but Norfolk County Council environment service fear the construction of the current buildings caused “severe and widespread damage” to any other archeological remains.
The original church was demolished in 1548, and in the 1960s skeletal remains were uncovered by a mechanical digger making a trial hole near the junction of Botolph Street and Magdalen Street.
Norfolk County Council are asking Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle to assess the damage already done and mitigate any additional loss.
Dr James Albone, historic environment senior officer, said: “The presence of standing structures on the majority of the site has prevented any evaluation across the bulk of the area. Consequently, the nature, depth, state of preservation and significance of any buried archaeological remains present across much of the central and eastern part of the proposed development site in particular is uncertain.”
While it is not possible to carry out intrusive investigations, Norfolk County Council are insisting the new development would “minimise impact” on surviving remains.
“The complete loss of any surviving below-ground remains of the medieval churches of St Botolph and St Olave and their burial grounds, along with other potentially extensive areas of late Anglo-Saxon to post-medieval archaeological remains, constitutes a significant environmental impact,” added Dr Albone. Working with the investment firm Columbia Threadneedle, Weston Homes is proposing to demolish the existing shopping centre, along with the neighbouring Sovereign House. The buildings will be replaced with more than 1,200 new homes, a new leisure quarter, a 200-bed hotel, multi-storey car park and a new home for Surrey Chapel. Also included in the plans is a 25-storey tower block and replacement cinema.
Weston Homes will submit a planning application the city council at the end of this month (February), followed by a public exhibition.