City Hall is to ask the government for "exceptional financial support" to help rescue plans to redevelop Anglia Square.

Mike Stonard, leader of the council, revealed he was preparing to approach ministers about funding for the jeopardised project.

The £300m revamp of the site was suddenly scrapped last week after its developers, Weston Homes, said it was no longer financially viable. 

The scheme would have seen up to 1,100 new homes built, along with office, retail and leisure space. 

Weston Homes criticised the Conservative government and the nutrient neutrality directive, which blocked the building of new homes, and said it was among the factors that pushed up costs.

Mr Stonard said he plans to ask the government for millions of pounds to save the scheme as the future of the site hangs in the balance. 

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

He said: "We do not own Anglia Square and, therefore, we still cannot choose the developer or dictate the nature of any future scheme.

"But we will talk to national government, and any incoming new government, about the exceptional financial support needed to make the site viable."

The project was initially due to receive £15m from Homes England's Housing Infrastructure Fund, but delays to the scheme meant that it was eligible for only £7m. 

Weston Homes faced one of its biggest setbacks in 2020 when local government secretary Robert Jenrick blocked the original granting of planning permission by Norwich City Council.

Norwich Evening News: Anglia SquareAnglia Square He shut down the proposals on the grounds that a proposed 20-storey tower - which was later dropped from the application - was of "excessive size in relation to its context".

Bob Weston, chairman and managing director of Weston Homes, said: "I am personally gutted to have to write off millions of pounds of company investment and not have a new scheme to show at the end of the venture.

"The core contributor to a lot of the issues in this saga is the Conservative government, which seems to have no understanding of the importance of supporting the housebuilding industry, regional cities and local communities in the UK."

Norwich Evening News: Bob Weston, managing director of Weston Homes Bob Weston, managing director of Weston Homes (Image: Weston Homes)READ MORE: Park and ride site earmarked for closure

The development was also hit by a drop in demand for office spaces as more people started working from home due to the pandemic, and Weston Homes said changes in government design guidelines meant it would have to make significant cuts to the number of homes. 

The company was given a community infrastructure levy (CIL) exemption for the first two phases of the redevelopment, a tax on housing developers that supports facilities like playgrounds, schools and libraries

As this is a charge on developer profits, and the first two phases were to be built at a loss, there would have been no CIL to receive but the exemption left Weston Homes with a £5.4m bill for the final two phases. 

Norwich Evening News: Mike Stonard, leader of the councilMike Stonard, leader of the council (Image: Denise Bradley)Mr Stonard said: "In the end, even with a package of financial support from the council and Homes England, the viability was too tight, the scheme was too risky, the finance could not be raised, and the developer did, indeed, walk away. 

"The site is complex and expensive to redevelop because the first thing any builder must do is pay for the demolition of the current buildings, before a single brick is laid, or a single home or shop is built.

"This means there are considerable up-front costs, which adds to borrowing costs and makes financial viability very difficult. The council is considering all options."