Plans submitted to rip down former Anglia Square bank for flats

Plans have been submitted to redevelop the former Barclays bank on Magdalen Street

Plans have been submitted to redevelop the former Barclays bank on Magdalen Street - Credit: Google Street View

The missing piece of a total revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square has been lodged with City Hall, with an eyesore former bank set to be demolished. 

The brutalist former Barclays building in Magdalen Street would be knocked down under plans submitted to Norwich City Council by Cannon Clarke Architects. 

However, a strategy to tackle water pollution in Norfolk could throw a spanner in the works. 

The scheme would see a vacant 2.5-floor building replaced with a four-storey structure featuring commercial space in the basement and ground floor with 13 apartments above. 

A mixture of two and three-bedroom apartments have been proposed, with access from Edward Street. 

The development is unrelated to wider development plans at Anglia Square submitted by developer Weston Homes and site owner Columbia Threadneedle, which propose up to 1,100 homes at the 11.5-acre site.  

Cannon Clarke’s project sits on the edge of Anglia Square on a prominent corner junction between Magdalen Street, Cowgate Street, Edward Street and Annes Walk. It is connected to the rest of the ageing shopping centre by a raised walkway. 

Full development of the site is reliant on the demolition of neighbouring buildings and two apartments may be scrapped if the Weston Homes scheme is halted. 

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Jon Brent, a director at Cannon Clarke, said: “It will turn a vacant building that hasn’t been used effectively for many years into an asset for the community, providing housing but also retaining commercial frontage in the scheme.” 

However, Mr Brent had some concerns about the impact of nutrient neutrality – a directive from government advisor Natural England that new home developments must demonstrate they will not impact Norfolk’s rivers. 

He said it would hold up development, with three options proposed by the city council – withdraw the application, let it run but expect a “no,” or to have the timeframe for a decision extended by 18 months. His client, Tony Matless, has not yet made a decision. 

Anglia Square and Magdalen Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The former Barclays bank building is close to the main Anglia Square complex in Magdalen Street - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

While the plans would see a complete revamp, demolition had not always been the company’s plan. 

“It is not a popular bit of architecture but it could be the last memory of what Anglia Square was,” Mr Brent said. 

“We were initially looking to extend the building and put a new roof top on.” 

He said early talks with council officers had indicated there would be more support for a complete rebuild. 

The architect described the fact the building was not owned by Columbia Threadneedle as a “bit of an anomaly” and his company wanted to develop something that delivered its own architectural vision while being in line with the size of other proposed developments. 

No parking spaces are included in the plans but there is storage for 27 bicycles. 

Norfolk County Council’s Highways Department has objected to the plans unless solutions to their concerns over the lack of parking for residents and commercial deliveries could be addressed. 

The highways officer said because the site is being developed separately from the rest of Anglia Square it must come up with its own solutions to keeping junctions free-flowing. 

Mr Brent said city council officer discussions had not brought up any highways concerns and the firm would look in more detail at the county council’s objection. 

Mancroft ward councillor Jamie Osborn said he supported new housing but was concerned about the scale of the plans.

"Generally I'm pleased to see empty buildings used for housing and retail but I want to see affordable houses, which I'm not sure this will provide," he said.

"I'm also about concerned about vehicle access. Magdalen Street is already busy and it can't take much more as it is."

Mr Osborn said it was a tall building that would be close to the edge of a narrow street, while current sizable structures, such as the car park, are set back from the street.

A design statement submitted with the application said the plans would enhance the area and make it look more inviting. 

It said: "Despite its strategic location, Anglia Square is mainly left unoccupied. 

"This has a negative effect on the area, and especially during the later hours of the day you feel the absence of people.”