An MP hopeful wants councils to be given more planning powers in the wake of the sudden collapse of the £300m revamp of Norwich's Anglia Square.

Labour's Alice Macdonald - who is hoping to take Norwich North from the Tories in this year's general election - has outlined her party's plans to "get Britain building" and overhaul the planning system.

Norwich Evening News: Labour MP candidate for Norwich North Alice MacdonaldLabour MP candidate for Norwich North Alice Macdonald (Image: Alice Macdonald)

Ms Macdonald said: "It's really important to get the planning system working and that's why Labour would roll out a package of reforms. 

"We would strengthen rules to ensure developers can't get out of their responsibilities. For example, there are concerns in Norwich North that developments are going up without the necessary infrastructure.

"We need to make sure we getting better deals for local communities.

"We would also hand more powers to local authorities because local people are best placed to make decisions on local planning.

Norwich Evening News: The £300m revamp of Anglia Square was pulled earlier this weekThe £300m revamp of Anglia Square was pulled earlier this week (Image: Denise Bradley)

"It's about restoring the balance between developers and communities." 

However, the Labour Party has come under fire in recent months over a perceived lack of policy detail in the run-up to the general election.

Leader Sir Keir Starmer has outlined a housing recovery plan, which he says will quickly reform planning to boost housebuilding to buy and rent. 

READ MORE: 'Exciting' plans for 55 city centre homes WILL be submitted despite delays

Sir Keir also promised 'new towns' with bustling high streets, a package of devolution to mayors, a 'planning passport' that would fast track the approval of high-density housing on brownfield sites and plans to give 'first dibs' to first-time buyers.

Norwich Evening News: Sir Keir Starmer has promised to reform the planning processSir Keir Starmer has promised to reform the planning process (Image: PA)

But with a general election on the horizon, questions about how Labour would make major changes persist.

"We will set out our full ambitions," said Ms Macdonald, who grew up in west Norfolk and took on the Norwich North candidacy in July 2022.

"But the overall ambition is to get Britain building and reform the planning system.

"Obviously every place is different so it can't just be a blanket approach. Local representatives should stand up in parliament to raise local concerns, and that's what I would do if elected.

"We need to think about speeding up the planning process, but we also need to make sure we're building the right sort of developments in the right areas.

"For example, we need more social and affordable housing. But we also need to make sure young people are able to get on the property ladder.

"The Tories have taken an approach of sitting back and seeing what happens. They've left it up to market forces.

"But we need to be proactive."

Ms Macdonald's words come just days after the surprise collapse of the £300m redevelopment of Anglia Square.

The prominent city site is just over the constituency border into Norwich South but Labour colleague Clive Lewis was not available to speak about the situation.

Norwich Evening News: The plans would have seen up to 1,100 homes built at the siteThe plans would have seen up to 1,100 homes built at the site (Image: Weston Homes)

Weston Homes said it had been forced to cancel the shopping centre redevelopment, which would have seen up to 1,100 new homes built, because a "multitude of issues" meant it was not financially viable.

READ MORE: Shop bosses fear 'stay of execution' as Anglia Square plans are axed

The developer blamed the Conservative government, the switch away from office space due to the pandemic and the nutrient neutrality environmental directive, which has disrupted the building of new homes, for pushing up costs.

Ms Macdonald continued: "This was very bad news.

"It wasn't perfect but it would have brought jobs and homes to the area. 

"A lot of planning and consulting with the public had also gone into this.

"The Labour council worked hard to secure a positive outcome for the city and this is an indictment of a Tory government who don't have a proper plan for housing, have failed to fix the planning system and not given local authorities the powers they need.

Norwich Evening News: Alice Macdonald will be hoping to take Norwich North from the ToriesAlice Macdonald will be hoping to take Norwich North from the Tories (Image: Supplied)

"Something has to be done with Anglia Square and we need to look at what we can do next. But it has to be done right and consider both the local community and businesses in the area."

READ MORE: Planned completion date for regeneration of city 'gateway' revealed

The way in which nutrient neutrality - rules which require developers to mitigate nutrient pollution from new homes - has been implemented is believed to have held up thousands of homes across the country.

When asked about Labour's plans on this, Ms Macdonald said: "We have to be concerned about the environment.

"It's disingenuous to say the only way to get Britain building is to weaken environmental laws.

"But we need to work together to make sure we are getting the balance right."

Norwich Evening News: Businesses had already started to leave Anglia Square prior to plans being pulledBusinesses had already started to leave Anglia Square prior to plans being pulled (Image: Sonya Duncan)

Ms Macdonald will be going up against the Green Party's Ben Price in Norwich North.

The Conservative Party is yet to announce its candidate to replace the outgoing Chloe Smith - who has held the seat since 2009.