What Anglia Square redesign could mean for city's economy

A 20-storey tower is part of the mooted revamp of Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes

A 20-storey tower is part of the mooted revamp of Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

Planners will have a fresh opportunity to look at the economic impact of the redevelopment of Anglia Square after plans were withdrawn this week. 

Developer Weston Homes and site owner Columbia Threadneedle said they would go back to the drawing board instead of going to a High Court hearing to challenge the refusal of planning permission. 

And although plans for a 20-storey tower block were at the root of many of the issues, economic experts said that the broader ideas of bringing more residential space, as well as leisure and retail offerings, to this part of the city was a good plan. 

Anthony Breach, a senior analyst for the Centre for Cities - an independent think tank aiming to improve the economies of UK towns and cities - said: "When we look at Norwich we see there is somewhat a reliance on retail - about a third of the city is retail space compared to the national average of a quarter. 

"Now that's not a problem because the city's vacancy rate is in line with the national average of between 11 and 12pc, but if we're looking at a long term strategy we know that Norwich needs more high-quality, but smaller office units for highly-skilled, exportable businesses. 

"This in turn - having people working in businesses like insurance, software development and so on - has a direct impact on the local economy because we know that businesses bringing money from outside the county into the city are more likely to spend within the local economy. 

"So when we're looking at redevelopments of cities we need to bring all of this into account to build a longer term strategy, because it could be easy to say 'Everyone is working from home after the pandemic, we need less office space'." 

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Joe Faulkner heads up the team at KPMG in Norwich, and added that economic planning needed to go beyond retail: "We think that high streets of the future will become multi-purpose locations, combining retail and hospitality amenities alongside residential, education, healthcare, cultural, and community offerings. 

10/05/2018 KPMG, Cambridge. Picture: David Johnson Photographic

Joe Faulkner. - Credit: David Johnson Photographic

"If Norwich and cities like it can present a well-balanced and diverse experience, that will draw people into the city centre not just for shopping but also for education, socialising, healthcare, entertainment and leisure. This creates jobs, encourages local spending and protects rental income, all of which provides valuable revenue streams to continue improving and developing for residents and visitors alike."