Graphic: How Norwich city centre is set to get a major makeover

Gentleman's Walk in Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY. Gentleman's Walk in Norwich. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY.

Friday, August 15, 2014
1:25 PM

The mix of shops, restaurants, homes and cafés which Norwich needs to continue to be a thriving and attractive place to visit and buy goods has been set out by Norwich City Council.

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Useful links

• The consultation on the main town centres runs until Monday, September 8. Details can be found here.

• The town centre’s uses and retail frontages document can be found here.

Click here to see the graphic in full

Businesses are being urged to provide feedback about its new guidance for planners, which for the first time sets out its vision for the number of shops on its high streets, as well as other businesses such as banks, building societies, restaurants and cafés.

The blueprint could see the green light given to plans for flats above shops in places such as The Lanes and Magdalen Street, and will also urge planners to discourage high concentrations or continuous run of betting shops and amusement centres.

Castle Mall, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams.Castle Mall, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams.

The document sets out the current number of shops in each of the main areas of the city. There are currently more shops in the areas than the proposed minimum in the planning guidance.

GENTLEMAN’S WALK

• Empty units: 8.5%

Anglia Square. Photo by Simon Finlay.Anglia Square. Photo by Simon Finlay.

• Empty floorspace: 1.9%

•Keep 80% of the ground floor level buildings as shops, and particularly seek to keep larger shops in the area.

• Allow vacant units, and unused upper floors, to be used for cafes, restaurants and bars to help the night time economy.

• Upper floors of buildings could potentially be used for homes.

Chapelfield Mall.  Photo: Bill Smith.Chapelfield Mall. Photo: Bill Smith.

• Discourage the use in ground floor shops for betting shops and amusement centres.

CASTLE MALL

• Empty units: 18.9%

Music fans queue up in St Benedicts Street.Music fans queue up in St Benedicts Street.

• Empty floorspace: 14.1%

• Seek to maintain a minimum of 80% of shops on level one and two of the shopping centre, but allow other use if it can help to address long term vacancy problems, or promote vitality.

• The council also wants to support wider diversification of uses on other levels and more efficient and innovative use of public space.

• It also wants to encourage the Timberhill height – Level 4 – to be used more for early evening economy activities, such as restaurants and cafés.

Your views on the proposal

Diane Catchpole from Old Catton, 60, supports the move to help diversify the city.

“I think there should be restrictions,” she says. “We’ve lost a lot of shoe shops, and now there’s so many mobile phone places instead. St Stephens looks awful, it’s full of supermarkets. There should be a limit on pound shops too. I’d like to see more fashion.”

Becky Kingsley, 34, believes the atmosphere of the city could be improved.

“The evenings are too quiet in Norwich and limited to one area with loud pubs and clubs. More outdoor cafes and nice wine bars with a holiday feel would be better.”

Richard Lang from Thorpe St. Andrew, 31, is less sure, and urges more collaborative thinking across different sectors.

“There’s no quick fix,” he said. “White papers are not that effective. Some premises are left empty, so space should be used creatively, with pop-up shops or kids enterprises. There should be more consultation and surveys to find out what people want.”

MAGDALEN STREET/ANGLIA SQUARE

• Empty units: 10.8%

• Empty floorspace: 8.9%

City centre makeover graphicCity centre makeover graphic

• The council will seek to maintain 60% of the areas as shops and will continue to support independent shops and cafes and bars to encourage the evening economy.

• While Anglia Square is being built it will resist changes to homes, but ultimately it will consider proposals to change the use of ground floor shops to homes on a case by case basis.

CHAPELFIELD

• Empty units: 12.3%

• Empty floorspace: 3.9%

• The vacancy rate is relatively low as a proportion of floorspace, but higher when measured as a proportion of shop units, suggesting that it is harder to fill the smaller units.

• The council plans to maintain 80% of the units as shops, but it will allow diversification if it helps address long term vacancies.

• It will also support any measures to improve the layout of the shopping centre, to make it more attractive or easier to use for shoppers.

BACK OF THE INNS

• Empty units: 5.6%

• Empty floorspace: 4.4%

• The council plans to ensure there is a minimum of 65% of shops, with an aim of attracting larger shops. It will allow more diversification in smaller shops.

• It will give particular support to businesses which will help expand the evening economy, such as cafes and restaurants, as long as it will not restrict access for service vehicles. It will support the use of buildings which increase footfall at night and discourage betting shops and amusement centres.

THE LANES (EAST)

• Empty units: 5.2%

• Empty floorspace: 1%

• The council will seek to maintain a minimum of 70% of shops and continue to support proposals for speciality and independent retailers.

• It will support the expansion of cafes and restaurants, particularly on London Street and Bedford Street and discourage continuous runs of betting shops and amusement centres. It will also support the use of upper floors for businesses, like the Norwich Gym in the former Habitat shop.

ST STEPHENS STREET

• Empty shops: 15.6%

• Empty floorspace: 2.1%

• Maintain a minimum of 80% shops. The council will also support the refurbishment and reconfiguration of large shops throughout the area and discourage continuous runs of betting shops and amusement centres.

• It will support, where feasible and viable, the redevelopment of the 1960s shops on the east of St Stephens Street and on Westlegate Street, encouraging cafes and restaurants and making space for outside seating when traffic is cut.

ST BENEDICTS STREET

• Empty units: 5.5%

• Empty floorspace: 4.8%

• The council wants to maintain a minimum of 60% of shops. It will continue to support proposals for independent shops and the expansion of businesses which promote the evening economy.

• It will discourage runs of betting shops and amusement centres and support the use of floors above shops and restaurants for flats.

Proposals for new development and a change of use at the Cathedral Retail Park will also be considered.

Adrian Fennell, partner at chartered surveyors Roche, welcomed the initiative which he said showed the council was taking a “pro-active stance” in ensuring Norwich continues to remain a vibrant city centre that is evolving with the shift in consumer shopping and leisure habits.

“The specific focus on retail areas will ensure that the plan remains relevant and can be individually adapted in the future,” he said.

But he warned that the council would need to carefully consider the implications of rules which mean it is currently possible to convert a restaurant into a betting shop without control.

“Furthermore, certain non-retail uses will still need to be very carefully controlled, such as late night bars as this could detract from residential occupation within the city centre that is also an essential element for encouraging and retaining vibrancy,” he warned.

“I would also like to see all the landlord’s views being canvassed as they play an essential part to the plan, particularly as their consent will be required before any tenant can apply for a change of use,” he added.

The new plan will be more flexible than previous, less wide-reaching plans, and will have less legal constraints.

Stefan Gurney, executive director of the Norwich Business Improvement District, said that it was broadly supportive of the document because it would see the project reviewed on a yearly basis.

“It allows the flexibility should there be a change of direction for the city centre. They are not set in stone,” he said.

He added: “There is an opportunity to move towards a high street experience that is not solely retail. They have given that flexibility to look at restaurants and cafes to add to the vibrancy and usage, while also considering the mixture of residential use.”

Mike Stonard, cabinet member for environment, development and transport, said: “Our integrated, proactive approach to planning for shopping has been crucial in delivering the range and quality of shopping experience that exists in Norwich today.

“This guidance and consultation process is about working with local businesses and retail associations to secure Norwich’s continuing vitality as a thriving retail and visitor destination.”

Under planning rules any decision the council makes to approve or refuse planning applications – including whether or not to accept the change of use of a shop – must be made in line with the local plan, unless there are exceptional reasons.

The new document is a part of the latest local plan, which has been drawn up over four years. The city council has collected evidence and also looked at development needs and opportunities in the city.

It has consulted and negotiated with a wide range of local people, developers, landowners, business representatives and other stakeholders on draft policies, and has made changes in response to consultation feedback and shifts in national policy.

It submitted the final plan to government for independent assessment last year.

28 comments

  • @andy. You seem to have a fixation with levels of staffing in local government. What statistics do you have to clarify your view?

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    marty r

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • Bit late to think of discouraging betting shops. Horse and stable door etc

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    marty r

    Friday, August 15, 2014

  • It's not rocket science, the answers are already there - just visit any number of cities in Europe and you will see how to plan city centres and transport systems. What's lacking in this country - and definitely in Norfolk! - is the political will and the nous to make it happening. We need fewer "talkers" and more people with degrees in JFDI !

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    Citizen of EUSSR

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

  • Too many years, too late. However if funding (no doubt council tax) can be secured, then it should be good for Norwich.

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    dark1988

    Thursday, August 14, 2014

  • An integrated transport strategy is what's needed, incorporating buses, trams, bikes AND cars. The car drivers have the most disposable income - push them away and you'll put the turnover of certain businesses in jeopardy, resulting in closures of shops as opposed to encouraging more retailers into the city as per this proposal. Driving out the cars (excuse the pun!) would be a dangerous strategy. They must play a part in a fully intergrated strategy for transport and business expansion.

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    Honest Injun

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Albert Cooper, you should work for the council with an attitude like that, Norwich will continue to die, it doesn't matter what you think, you have to provide for what people want not dictate to people or you'll lose them.

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    parkeg1

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • ingo wagenknecht ; The old Norwich union company as you call them don't need a car park next door, they have one behind the petrol station on Queens Road and as they have less staff in the city they just closed the other one they had behind Sainsbury's at Brazen Gate. A blockof flat will probably go in there as they have just sold all the ones in the new block in Westlegate so they have customers for flat there.

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    parkeg1

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • The motor car has damaged Norwich down the years and will continue to do so in the future! There is a underused Park and Rde service,but no the motorist wants to drive to the door of the shop required,with the "ive paid my licence! attitude

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    Albert Cooper

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Before the council embarks on fancy plans how about deep cleaning the streets and repairing the roads and pavements. It looks a dump and uncared for.

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Expensive and full car parks,poor or non existent bus services--especially at night, generally making the roads and pavements into obstacle courses, high business rates and rents and is it any wonder the City is suffering? Parts of the city resemble the wild west on weekend evenings and certainly discourage more mature members of society to venture in. Plenty needs to change to improve matters.

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    mjc

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • please forgive my typos, its zoomed and trams....dooh.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Thanks to Liam for his excellent comparrisson with Le Havre. It has a population of approx.187.000. Norwich itself has 132.000 within City boundaries but the travel to work in Norwich figure is 351.000. Le havre is buil;ding a tarm and we battle with toads at County and City level to re introduce once popular trams, a good indication how stultified planning has become in this county.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • The above city map, if zommed in on will not give up its illegible view, you can't read it, with or without glasses. The old mecca Bingo opposite Bonds will be another multistorey car park City Hall did not talk to us about. Its most likely to serve staff of the ex Norwich Union company. But here comes the crux of it, quese on All Saints Green, waiting to file into their car park will play havoc with inner City traffic, likely to pile up all the way down cattle market street. How is the in and oput going to work there, never mind at the proposal for the City Hall car park in Rose lane? Is it City Hall, sorry Labour policy to congest and smoke out the City?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Perhaps what we really need is for a much smaller Council with fewer staff so that rates and costs will be lowered??

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    andy

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • So basically the plan is for lots more restaurants? Just how many people will really try to travel into Norwich to eat? As others have said, the problem is parking space is inadequate for current needs and will get much worse with planned housing in Norfolk and especially around Norwich. Public transport is poor and especially fails to address the needs of families and those wanting to use the city late at night. This 'bright' idea by someone shows that they are out of touch with reality.

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    andy

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • I think this will end up like all the other plans, a complete dead zone unless there are proper reliable transport links, affordable parking and free up some of the road the council have closed. The city has a problem and it's the council, to make the city thrive it need people and whilst those peoples access has been eroded away so the city dies. Trade drops and shops & market stall close, what did they expect. the council really needs to start taking note of what we say when they have public input. Those asking for trams, I'd say they are old hat, move forwards and have a monorail system, that way it's up out of the way and can run a reliable service all day and all night with out interference from traffic, road works or people and the council could get funding from the EU if it took it's head out of it's back side. Another thing is if you use up the upper levels of these shops for bars, cafes and homes where are the shops going to put their stock and staff facilities?

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    parkeg1

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • This is hardly a "major makeover". It's more like business as usual. The City Council can't control businesses who want to trade in the city centre or their private landlords. It'll encourage diversity, of course just like motherhood and apple pie, and discourage anti-social businesses like betting and amusement arcades, if it can. Mostly, it's not a landlord but where it is why are shops like the one at bottom of Lower Goat Lane still empty - too high rent and rates? How can the late night economy be squared off against the desire for above street level living on Gentlemans Walk - the two don't mix. Much better to keep the late night economy in a tight area around Prince of Wales Road, where the anti-social aspects can kept as far as possible from those who wish to live peacefully in the city. And no mention of the market, where the City Council have much more control as landlords. Here there is the opportunity to develop the food side of the market in a similar way to the highly successful Borough market in London.

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    Rich Hartt

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • There will always be empty shops in any city but the numbers will rise further in Norwich if there is not the investment in decent cheap car parking - the biggest single factor that will increase the economic viability of the city centre.

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    Norfolk John

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • All for plans to increase the night economy, but when the last back leaves the city at 10:30 on a Friday, barely gives you enough time to see a film let alone have a bite to eat or a drink, so only option is driving so then that asks the question why bother going out for a drink and food (plus taxi's are extortionate). Some proper transportation links and forward planning, someone mentioned tram systems, having just been to Le Mans in France, similar size city to Norwich, with their Tram system that runs late, makes it easier to move around the city. Proper investment like this is needed.

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    Liam Dickinson

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • I live in France and all the French cities are superior to Norwich in diversity of shops parking and transport links,even leading up to Christmas I can drive in park and drive out of a city like Caen with ease ,they all have either excellent cheap bus services or tram systems,my daughter lives in le havre where they have just put in a whole new tram system and that's in a country that's supposed to be in a bad way,in France betting is done in licensed bars not standalone betting shops,Norwich used the be a nice tidy city with an interesting centre but now its just the same as everywhere else in england pound shops charity shops coffee shops that sell poor quality coffee and nothing much of interest.

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    trev57

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Piranha24 Norwich City Council don't employ people who do not have an interest in receiving Brown Envelopes and putting it into their back pockets or anyone who says a bad thing about them. All run by clueless, rich, Tory sheep in Red Wool pretending to be Labour, all of which waste the tax payers money. So when it goes wrong, and inevitably it does go wrong, they use the usual no comment, or when we want to know where money comes from or goes to, they say its commercially sensitive information. Translated it's gone into someones back pocket within City Hall.

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    che bramley

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • I worry when planners start drawing lines and zones, which as we know will pretend to listen to public input, but selectively with preference to ignore. If one looks down on google satellite, all you see are masses of flat pitch and chip roofs. Its not your medieval roof time! We only look really at a ground floor, its look and land use; we do not look at how many storeys or the potential to build a storey or so in apex roofs above. Why do we not build over car parks? Eg opposite the Forum or behind City Hall. Is there a point of adding nightlife on Gents Walk, if there is no 15 min regular bus service after 7pm and no service after 11pm. CafesWine bars do not mix disturbance wise with extra upper storey residential. Late night drunkenness and loud bar music? Nice fluffy zoned ideas have to be tempered with a high degree of common sense. The council need to start with lowering rents for market stallholders.

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    Rob Whittle

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Here come the experts, why arent you on the council if you know better? Where are all these cobble stones on Gentlemans Walk? Small businesses seem to be fine Che, hence the low empty units percentage on The Lanes and Back of the Inns. People moan about parking yet theres still plenty of places to park (St Stephens, The Mall, St Andrews, Rose Lane, Chapelfield, The Forum). You talk about the council not thinking, try it yourself. Ask the Greens, HAHA. Instead of trolling on here, do something productive.

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    Piranha24

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • It would be better to limit the number of night clubs - whose customers seem to provide a strain on NHS services. Prince of Wales Road has really gone down from being a classy road to being down-at-heel.

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    Lynda Edwards

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Norwich City Council has through greed gradually killed the City off, it's expensive rates, and taxes along with it's anti car policy and the inability to listen to the people and take note of what we want has made the place unpalatable to most. The shops are under attack from online shopping but it seems it's the shop issue to deal with and the council just carry on like it's someone elses problem. The City needs proper funding for transport infrastructure to be able to bring in visitors from all over the county, the investment in public transport is very nice but it's not going to provide access for everyone. I think it's to late to change what's happening unless the council changes it's attitude and direction, it will take a good deal more than a make over.

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    parkeg1

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • Great plans and no nous how to do it. Start with the market and your own dereliction behind City Hall. Tell us what has been proposed for the Mecca Bingo opposite Bonds. Improve the nightlife? by all, means but how will youngsters get into Norwich with virually no public transport at night? Building car parks to increase revenue because the rates and rent regime is unaffordable to many will not get Norwich out of the doldrums. If they want to attract young people, why build a skatepark in Eaton, rather than on their site in Chapelfield? Skewidth thinking has got us here, it will not get us out of it. What are the Greens ideas, has the EDP not asked them?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • If Norwich City Council want to attract more people to places like Gentleman's Walk they should stop providing pavements and then letting cafes fence them off for their own use so that people, especially the disabled, have to try to get round on those cobble stones. They may look pretty but to negotiate them with a tri-walker is very difficult. If they must prevent use of the pavements they have supplied for the general public they should provide further pavements outside the cafes.

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    watchdog

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

  • So the idea to allow flats to be placed over shops in areas where there are Restaurants and Pubs will result in those tenants moaning about late night revellers. Norwich City Council now says that it wants to reduce the numbers of Betting Shops bit to late for that, why is there the need for 2 Ladbrokes which should be renamed a lad is left broke after losing everything on the horrible fixed odds betting machines. Yet again the bigger issue is why are shops empty. Yet again I will say Business Rates, and Rents set far to high. Maybe Norwich City Council needs to actually speak to smaller retailers and find why they are not prepared to lease prime city centre locations and most will have the same answer which I have clearly stated several times. We also hardly need more Restaurants or Cafes we have enough as it is, clearly those in the Planning Department do not get just cause there will be more of them it will increase footfall to shops, like durgh completely different opening hours for a start off. This Council is desperate, and clearly it is wasting money on crackpot ideas as stated in this article, which I may add is the Council Tax Payers money, will we all have a say in what happens? I very much doubt it cause not many of us can order or afford, certain types of Stationery which end up in back Trouser Pockets.

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    che bramley

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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