Changing face of Norwich: Cranes tower over city as schemes take shape

One of the three large cranes towering over Norwich city at the moment, this one working on the refu

One of the three large cranes towering over Norwich city at the moment, this one working on the refurbishment of Norwich Castle. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

Towering cranes over the skyline of Norwich are a sign that, while it has been a year since coronavirus lockdown began, the city has continued to change.

Construction work has, understandably, slowed because of the various restrictions introduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent impact on the economy.

But a string of major projects are altering how the city looks, with three huge cranes currently adding to the usual mix of spires and towers.

One of the three large cranes towering over Norwich city at the moment, this one working in Duke Str

The crane working on the Duke Street Riverside development towers over the city centre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

And they range from the transformation of a museum beloved by generations to hundreds of new homes for Norwich's burgeoning student population and other people keen to move into the city centre.

Coronavirus restrictions has meant some people have barely ventured into the city centre over the past 12 months.


You may also want to watch:


When they do get back, here are some of the schemes they will see which are changing the face of Norwich.

1. Norwich Castle: Gateway to Medieval England

Most Read

It takes a lot to dwarf Norwich Castle, but then you need a lot of crane when working on a multi-million pound revamp.

That's why a mammoth, bright yellow, 136ft tower crane currently looms over the medieval city landmark.

One of the three large cranes towering over Norwich city at the moment, this one working on the refu

One of the three large cranes towering over Norwich city at the moment, this one working on the refurbishment of Norwich Castle. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

The crane is necessary while work is done on the Royal Palace Reborn project at the beloved museum and art gallery.

It is being used to transport materials for the £13.5m project, such as steel and glass.

And Morgan Sindall Construction will also use it to make alterations to the roof, which will make the battlements fully accessible to the public for the first time.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund-supported project will recreate the Norman layout of the keep, enabling visitors to experience Norwich Castle as it was in its medieval heyday.

A visualisation of the recreated Great Hall on the prinicpal floor of the keep of Norwich Castle. Pi

A visualisation of the recreated Great Hall on the prinicpal floor of the keep of Norwich Castle. Pic: Haley Sharpe Design. - Credit: Archant

Architects Feilden + Mawson are behind the Gateway to Medieval England project, which is also opening up new views of the Grade I listed Castle Keep.

2. Duke Street Riverside

This Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) scheme has seen the old 1970s former University of East Anglia flats in Mary Chapman Court, on Duke Street, demolished.

Mary Chapman Court, which is being demolished to make way for an expansion of Norwich University of

The old student flats in Mary Chapman Court have been knocked down. - Credit: Archant

Being built in their place is new, purpose-built accommodation for 100 NUA students in a seven-storey complex.

One of the three large cranes towering over Norwich city at the moment, this one working in Duke Str

Work is under way on the Duke Street Riverside development. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

The development, designed by Hudson Architects and granted planning permission in 2019, will also feature a new lecture theatre and a cafe, with improved public access to the site.

The flats are due to be ready for students to move into from September.

3. St James Quay

It has taken the best part of a decade, but more than 200 homes on land at the former Jarrold Printworks site are now taking shape.

One of the three large cranes towering over Norwich city at the moment, this one at St James Place,

Work on new apartments at St James Quay, at Barrack Street and Whitefriars. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

Permission for a scheme, including 200 homes, a 60-bedroom hotel and offices, was granted to Jarrold in 2007.

While some offices and a bridge over the river were built. a slowdown in the housing market meant the homes had not been built.

How the new apartments will look at St James Quay. Pic: Simon J Harvey.

An artist's impression of the St James Quay apartments. - Credit: Archant

But, in 2018, fresh plans were lodged with Norwich City Council by Essex-based housebuilder Hill, which were granted.

Construction of the St James Quay development, designed by Feilden+Mawson is continuing.

This modern two-bedroom apartment at St James' Quay boasts riverside views and is for sale for £494,

The St James Quay development. - Credit: Archant

A show apartment has been created, with the first phase of the work due to be completed in the summer.

4. Westwick Street homes

A building which was once a crucial hub in Norwich’s telephone network has been reduced to rubble - to make way for 40 new homes.

Permission to demolish the 1950s-built Westwick House, in Westwick Street, was given the go-ahead at a meeting of Norwich City Council’s planning committee in October 2016.

Demolished BT repeater station in Norwich

The former BT repeater station in Westwick Street has been knocked down to make way for flats. - Credit: Dan Grimmer

The building used to be BT's telephone repeater station for the city of Norwich.

All telephone traffic used to be carried over copper conductors in telephone cables.

But because copper wire is resistant to electrical signals, the power of the signals diminishes over distance.

To help make long-distance calls audible, amplification was needed – which is what happened at the telephone repeater station.

Westwick House, the former telephone repeater station in Westwick Street, Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FI

The now demolished repeater station in Westwick Street. - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

But the development of modern optic cables rendered such stations redundant.

Developer Wensum Development Ltd is building 42 new flats on the site, with the scheme designed by LSI Architects.

An image of what the new apartments in Westwick Street would look like. Pic: LSI Architects.

An image of what the new apartments in Westwick Street would look like. Pic: LSI Architects. - Credit: LSI Architects

The one and two-bedroom apartments will be housed in two L-shaped blocks – one of five storeys and one of four storeys.

While work began in May last year, the past couple of weeks have seen the demolition of the last remaining sections of the old repeater station.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter