December 8 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
A decision will be made tomorrow on whether a complex of more than 200 student flats can be built in the heart of Norwich city centre.
London-based Alumno Developments has lodged plans with Norwich City Council for the redevelopment of a site close to the city’s bus station, for a scheme it has branded as All Saints Norwich.
If approved, it would see a 228-bedroom student accommodation block of up to nine storeys built on the east side of the bus station site, between the YMCA and Queens Road.
The plans also seek permission to demolish numbers 52 and 54 All Saints Green, the refurbishment of Number 50 – a Grade II listed building – and the creation of a “pocket park”.
But heritage group the Norwich Society has raised concerns over the scheme, questioning whether that sort of height is appropriate and whether the design is sympathetic enough to nearby Ivory House.
The civic watchdog has questioned why the building needs to be so tall and suggested four to five storeys might be more appropriate.
And national campaign group the Victorian Society has also got qualms about the proposals. They say the student accommodation block is “out of scale with the sensitive historic context” and do not want to see numbers 52 and 54 demolished.
The developer, which carried out consultation earlier this year, says there is a need for student accommodation, with more than 19,000 students in higher education at the city’s two universities – the University of East Anglia and the Norwich University of the Arts.
Both the UEA and NUA have given the scheme their support in letters accompanying the application to the city council.
And officers at Norwich City Council have recommended that members of the planning committee at City Hall grant permission for the scheme when they meet tomorrow.
Officers, in a report which will come before councillors, state: “It is considered that the location demands a building of stature and robustness and quality in its appearance, because it is part of the city’s new gateway - the bus station.”
They say: “Currently, on its own, the existing large scale Travelodge arguably fails to have sufficient gravitas and quality of design to act as an appropriate gateway and landmark building for this important destination.
“Therefore, it is considered important and appropriate to introduce a large scale building that can address the corner through its articulation, but which has more solidity and ‘presence’ through its choice of materials, proportions and detailing, than the large neighbouring developments.”
Officers conclude that the proposals “have been carefully considered to sit alongside the neighbouring historic area of the city centre, whilst still providing a building of stature and high quality design for this important gateway location”.
The council’s planning committee will meet at City Hall from 9.30am tomorrow.