Friday, August 8, 2014
New life could finally be breathed into a city centre riverside site which has stood empty for 15 years, after ambitious plans to turn it into 155 homes were lodged.
The former Eastern Electricity Board site at Duke’s Wharf, off Duke Street, has been vacant, except for use as a car park, since 1999.
Previous attempts to redevelop the neglected corner of the city, including a plan to create eco-friendly offices, failed to come to fruition.
But Norwich City Council this week received an application from city-based property investment and development company Targetfollow which, if approved, would give the site a new lease of life.
The company wants to create 155 homes on the 2.2-acre site. Their plan is for the former Eastern Electricity Board building to be transformed into 69 converted apartments, including penthouse levels on top.
The site previously housed the offices, workshops and social club of the Eastern Electricity Board.
Before that it was home to the Norwich Corporation Electricity Department and the Electric Light Works, while some of the land was once owned by Bullards Brewery.
The buildings on the site were developed over time, with the two oldest being those closest to the junction of Duke Street with Charing Cross.
Those date back to the early 1900s and are believed to have been designed by the Norwich architectural firm of Edward Boardman.
The largest are those constructed in the 1930s which front the river and Duke Street and which would be transformed into the apartments under Targetfollow’s proposals.
The site has been empty since 1999 and in 2001, permission was granted to convert part of the site into 82 flats, to build 12 town houses and provide a leisure club and restaurant.
But that never happened and, in 2008, another scheme - for 200,000 sq ft of offices, restaurants and cafes, along with 16 homes.
That scheme, which was designed by Feilden + Mawson architects, was given permission by city councillors, but again, it never came to fruition.
There would also be five new four-bedroom townhouses facing the river, replacing the building which is currently covered in the words from Sir Thomas More’s novel ‘Utopia’ courtesy of local artist Rory Macbeth.
Three blocks, containing 51 flats, are planned for the centre of the complex. The flats and apartments would be a mix of one, two and three bedrooms.
Two extra storeys would be added to the Eastern Electricity Board building, increasing to three on the corner nearest to Duke Street.
The proposals also include three commercial units and a new underground car park, with space for 95 cars, including a car club space and charging points for electric cars.
Power for the development could come from an unusual source - reviving a commercial water source heat pump on the site, which was the UK’s first when it was installed in 1945.
Corin Thoday, chief executive of Targetfollow, said: “We’re very excited that this innovative scheme has been submitted for planning.
“We have worked closely with Norwich City Council and the Broads Authority to ensure that all concerned parties will be comfortable with our proposals, and are looking forward to delivering these new homes for Norwich over the next couple of years.”
The architects have worked up ideas for the open spaces between the buildings, with plans for a residents’ lawn, while 45 trees will be planted on the site.
Access to the site would be via Westwick Street, while there would also be a way out onto Duke Street.
Last year, the developers gave a presentation on their proposals to city councillors and held a public consultation, which has shaped this application.
Elizabeth Le Grice, landlady of the nearby Golden Star pub, said she would be pleased to see the revamp. She said: “We’d welcome anything that brings more people to the area. Having a derelict building on your road is never good.”
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council confirmed the plans, which will come before members of the city council’s planning committee at a future meeting, had been lodged.
• Would you be pleased to see development at the Duke’s Wharf site? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.