'Barcelona-style' redevelopment of Next store mooted
- Credit: Ben Hardy/Joshua Bamfield
A city centre building could get a major redevelopment with 15 luxury flats added to the roof.
The freehold of the Next store in Hay Hill is up for sale with less than four years until it expires - and now the ambitious plans have been seen by the Evening News.
Next would remain the "sitting tenant" for a new freehold put forward which could see the flats built on top of the store.
A spokesman for Next confirmed the store has no intention of leaving the site.
But landlord Redeveco UK - which is based in London - is considering a redevelopment of the building which could see "Barcelona-style" accommodation built.
CWM Commercial Property Advisors have been acting as the agent for the landlord and have been marketing the building with architectural drawings of how the new accommodation could look.
An agent, who did not wish to be named, said Redeveco had a valuation for the site to sell the building - but this was withdrawn in December.
The property is currently a single-let, four-storey building with 46,000sqft retail.
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Neil Fraser, associate director of Peter Taylor Associates Limited (PTAL) - which was behind the initial plans - explained: "The plans would see the commercial space reduced and more given over to a change of use to residential dwellings.
"This would include 15 flats - the equivalent of five on every floor.
"There would be two floors of commercial space and above that we would convert the top floor and at another, or maybe two, storeys."
The front-facing flats overlooking Hay Hill would be fronted with floor-to-ceiling windows creating a glass atrium for the penthouse.
Mr Fraser added: "Of these there would be five flats on each floor.
"Some of the existing building would be removed as it's currently being used as a service entrance. Instead this would be an entrance to all the dwellings as well as a flat on each of the floors.
"In the middle would be a courtyard for people who live there to enjoy."
The roof of the new side of the quadrant would be covered in solar panels with the rest of the building topped with pitched, slanting panels.
"We got inspiration from the Barcelona market which has a wave-like structure."
It comes as the nearby buildings formerly let to Debenhams and Topshop are in the process of being redeveloped to student accommodation and a Morrisons store respectively.
Professor Joshua Bamfield, of the Centre for Retail Research in Norwich, said: "There is a feeling we do not need as much shopping space as we did.
"I am not privy to what landlords think but in a place like Norwich accommodation, offices and places you can let out to smaller opportunities is something we have seen.
"I am not saying this is happening to the whole of the high street but people who have large premises are thinking very hard about whether or not they can take part in another sector of the economy whether that is accommodation or student lets."
The retail expert referred to this trend taking place in other parts of the country - including London's Oxford Street which has been renowned for its shopping scene.
The plans drawn up by CWM states the landlord's interest in taking back possession of the second and third floors of the building from the tenant for development.
It goes on to say: "This would allow the landlord to redevelop the second and third floors, while extending to a fourth floor, into a residential scheme.
"A feasibility study has been commissioned and carried out by PTAL Architects demonstrating a new 15 unit scheme which is viable.
"The property sits on an elevated site and would provide fantastic views over the city from any new flats."
The building last sold for £9.8m in March 2014.
Andrew Marshall, of CWM Commercial Property Advisors, said it was for the landlord to comment on the plans.
Chris Fleetwood and Adam Starr - who are both directors at Redeveco - have been contacted for comment.