City Hall is set to ask the government for financial support to buy Anglia Square amid uncertainty surrounding the future of the project. 

Mike Stonard, leader of Norwich City Council, has revealed he is already talking to government officials to explore the possibility of a grant to cover the entire cost of purchasing the site. 

The £300m revamp of Anglia Square was suddenly scrapped last month 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. 

Mr Stonard said: "It would be advantageous to future developments if the site is in public ownership. We're actively exploring options and talking to the government about this.

"These are early stages but a lot is going on in the background. We are hoping the government would give us the full amount for the purchase.

"We do not own Anglia Square and, therefore, we still cannot choose the developer or dictate the nature of any future scheme. If we purchased the site, this would not be the case."

Norwich Evening News: Council leader Mike StonardCouncil leader Mike Stonard (Image: George Thompson, LDR)The Norwich shopping centre was bought by asset management company Columbia Threadneedle for £7.5m in 2014, but the collapse of the Weston Homes plan means it is now unclear what will happen to the 11.4-acre site.

Mr Stonard had previously said he would approach the government for "exceptional financial support" to save the scheme as the cash-strapped council attempts to secure its future. 

He will ask the council to explore the potential of taking the site into public ownership at a meeting next week, but said they will continue to consider "all options". 


Weston Homes secured permission for the redevelopment of Anglia Square last spring, after years of public inquiries and legal battles. 

However, it pulled the plug on the project last month, citing seven reasons for the decision. 

The developers 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 for the development. 

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. 

Norwich Evening News: Sovereign House, Anglia SquareSovereign House, Anglia Square (Image: Denise Bradley)READ MORE: The great wall of Heartsease... and YOU spent £100k on it

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.

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".

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. 

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)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."