Could 2018 be the year of positive change for Norwich’s Anglia Square?
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
As the future for Norwich's Anglia Square is cast into the spotlight with news of revised proposals for the area's regeneration, this paper is calling for 2018 to be the year of positive change for the north city location.
For years there has been countless debates about what the future should hold for Anglia Square and our view, that now is the time for this change to happen, is echoed by readers and key figures in the area.
Trevor Wicks, who runs the Hollywood Cinema in Anglia Square, said it was important for plans to move forward and for people to be flexible and use common sense to make sure the area is developed in the right way, meanwhile Simeon Jackson, Green Party councillor for the Mancroft Ward, said he would very pleased to see something happen at the site but it was important it was sensitive to the existing local community and local heritage.
Readers on our website have expressed a desire to see work begin on transforming Anglia Square, with one reader, writing under the name The Equalizer, saying 'Next year could really be THE year of 'The Square.''
The latest proposals include increased parking and layout changes, and developers Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle are exploring the need for an environmental impact assessment with Norwich City Council after making alterations to the scheme.
A similar application, made in March, revealed extensive plans that included proposals for: a 25-storey tower block; 1,350 new homes; 15,000sqm of retail space, with space for a new cinema complex; and 500sqm of floor space for either a workshop or doctor's surgery. But in the latest EIA screening application, Iceni Projects, on behalf of Weston Homes, said the scheme had changed and so needed an updated opinion from the council.
Developers have increased spaces in the proposed multi-storey car park from 800 to 1,000 and made alterations to where the various forms of accommodation will be located. The overall site, including former office building Sovereign House, the condemned multi-storey car park fronting Edward Street, and Surrey Chapel Free Church, would be transformed in a bid to attract new shops and restaurants to the area. Most of the proposed homes would be one and two-bed flats. There is also scope for about 250 apartments to be given over to form a new hotel or student accommodation.
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Iceni Projects, on behalf of Weston Homes, said Anglia Square had experienced 'physical and economic decline for several decades', despite its location and heritage.
Views about Anglia Square
Trevor Wicks, who runs Hollywood Cinema in Anglia Square, said: 'You would hope something is going to happen in 2018. Hopefully the developers and the council can agree on things...It needs redeveloping and hopefully everybody can be a bit flexible and use some common sense to make sure it happens.'
He added: 'If all the points are agreed and they get planning permission [in 2018] that would be the best news, physically starting [the building work] is something else...Nobody wants anybody to cut any corners. We want it to be right first time.'
Simeon Jackson, Green Party councillor for the Mancroft Ward, said: 'My concern has always been that the development would [need to] be sensitive to the existing local community and local heritage and so, while I am very pleased that something may happen at that site, it would need to be the right thing and to fit in...If they want to get ahead with developing this as soon as possible they really ought to listen to the views of residents to make sure it is fitting in with the existing environment.'
History of regeneration proposals for Anglia Square
Anglia Square was set for a £100m regeneration in 2008 in plans which foundered as the credit crunch took hold.
Development managers Centenary Ashcroft had secured permission, on behalf of Anglia Square Partnerships Ltd. There was a suggestion that the redeveloped square could be named Calvert Square, after the historic Calvert Street, itself named after an 18th century Sheriff of Norwich.
But when the credit crunch hit in 2009, developers had to scale back the plans, submitting a trimmed down version in 2011.
The plans had included 174 new homes, a public square, new shops, restaurants, cafes and a healthcare centre. The proposal also included a 7,792-square metre foodstore, supported by 507 car park spaces, and it emerged Tesco had been in negotiations to take on that store.
Current owners Threadneedle bought the centre in 2014 for £7.55m – a drastic drop on the £36m the centre had changed hands for just eight years previously.