'Norwich deserves better' - Historic England warns it will fight Anglia Square development
PUBLISHED: 18:30 14 June 2018 | UPDATED: 18:49 14 June 2018
Archant Norfolk 2018
A body which protects the historic environment has warned it will fight to see a Norwich planning bid taken over by the government if approval looks likely.
Historic England has said if Norwich City Council recommends the Anglia Square development for approval it will seek to see it called in by the secretary of state - a process where the government takes on the decision, rather than the local authority.
The revamp of Anglia Square would see 1,200 new homes built, along with a new leisure quarter, 200-bed hotel, car park, replacement cinema and 25-storey tower block.
It has proved divisive - while some, including the New Anglia LEP, have welcomed a new chapter for the area, others, including civic watchdog the Norwich Society, have criticised the plans and, in particular, the tower.
On Thursday, Historic England confirmed they had advised the city council that they would seek for the application to be called-in if necessary.
The public body - which is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport - previously said it hopes to see the bid withdrawn, with John Neale, its planning director in the east of England, saying “Norwich deserves better”.
The news was welcomed by the Norwich Society, which has held public meetings over the plans.
Paul Burrall, its vice chair, said: “We think it’s a really good move. It seems as though it almost certainly means we will end up with a public inquiry.
“If it is refused the developer would likely appeal, so one way or another it sounds as though it will be a drawn-out process which will be properly scrutinised.”
He said they shared many of Historic England’s concerns.
In a letter to the council, Historic England said it would welcome engagement, but that, if the council is “minded to grant consent”, the case would be referred to the National Planning Casework Unit to ask for the secretary of state’s involvement.
They said they “strongly object” to the plans and the harm caused by the “large and incongruous” buildings proposed.
A spokesman for Norwich City Council said following public consultation the developers were speaking to architects about the plans.
They said: “They’re aiming to submit any revisions by the end of July. Changes to the planning application will then be subject to further consultation.”
Developers Weston Homes was approached for comment.