April 18 2015 Latest news:
Monday, April 21, 2014
Norwich’s Anglia Square is on the brink of being sold, but mystery surrounds the identity of the prospective buyer of the shopping centre.
The area around Anglia Square was targeted for regeneration way back in 2006. Norwich City Council put together a strategy, known as the northern area action plan, to encourage investment in the area and to serve as a blueprint to determine planning applications in the area.
The hope was that new flats and offices would be built in the area and the revamp of Anglia Square would lead to an influx of new restaurants, cafes and shops,
But, so far, the only real change in the area has been the creation of the so-called St Augustine’s gyratory scheme, which made a number of streets near Anglia Square one-way. Part of the reason for that work was to pave the way for when the square was finally redeveloped.
The square was thrust into the national spotlight last year, when the premiere of the Alan Partridge film Alpha Papa was held in the Hollywood cinema, with the film’s star, Steve Coogan, in attendance.
Campaigners had convinced the producers to hold the premiere in the home of the fictional broadcaster, arguing it should get its first screening in Anglia Square, not Leicester Square.
But businesses in Anglia Square have been reassured that the new owners, who could seal the deal within a month, intend to invest in the centre and are not planning to close it.
A major revamp of the shopping centre has been in the pipeline for years, but progress on the facelift was badly hampered because of the recession.
And now, if a revamp is to go ahead, it looks as if it will be a different owner who sees it through, although bosses are tight-lipped on who is on the verge of buying the square.
Simon Green, regional centre director for Northern Ireland-based BTW Shiells, which manages the square, confirmed a sale was underway, which he said was due to completed within the next month.
But he could not reveal the identity of the buyer or the price tag for the complex, which was built in the 1960s.
However, in a newsletter sent to businesses in Anglia Square, he stressed that the new owners would be committed to the future of the square.
He said: “At the time of writing, the sale of Anglia Square is underway. Agents are finalising the details and I expect to be formally announcing the new owner within a very short time.
“The purpose of writing at this time, is to dismiss rumours that are circulating, regarding the immediate future of the centre.
“The new owner will not be closing the centre immediately on completion and it will very much be business as usual, while plans for the future are considered.
“To the contrary, I expect the new owner to bring investment to the existing Anglia Square very quickly.”
Trevor Wickes, manager of the Hollywood Cinema in Anglia Square, said he was optimistic. He said: “It can only be a good thing and I think all the tenants are waiting to see what happens. “From what I can gather, it will be a good deal and the people who will be buying it will be doing so as an investment. I have been here long enough to have been through two owners. When they come in there tends to be money spent and plans developed and the future looks bright.
“The interest in Anglia Square has been huge and all the rumours are that this will be a good thing.”
In 2008, development managers Centenary Ashcroft secured permission, on behalf of Anglia Square Partnerships Ltd, for a multi-million pound regeneration of the complex.
Revised plans were lodged with Norwich City Council in 2011, including for 174 new homes, a public square, new shops, restaurants, cafes and a healthcare centre, while Gildengate House, the office block over the entrance to the car park, will be updated to provide modern offices.
Norwich City Council’s planning committee agreed in June 2011 to give the head of planning, in consultation with the committee’s chairman and vice chairman, powers to fine tune and approve the application.
One of the particular sticking points was what is known as a section-106 agreement, which covers contributions to public services made by the developer. That was signed in March last year.
The plans included a 7,792 square metre foodstore, supported by 507 car park spaces, and it emerged last year that Tesco was in negotiations to take on that store.
At that time, Isle of Man-based Integrated Capabilities, which was acting on behalf of Anglia Square Partnerships Ltd, said then that the future of the Anglia Square revamp was dependent on successful talks, including with Tesco. The supermarket company would not comment on its plans.
• What would you like to see happen at Anglia Square? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.