Traders excited by plans to transform eyesore site into student flats

Traders such as Mark Hedge, pictured inset, welcome plans to redevelop the former Eastern Electricity Board site

Traders such as Mark Hedge, pictured inset, welcome plans to redevelop the former Eastern Electricity Board site at Duke's Wharf - Credit: Archant

Plans to convert a derelict city centre site into plush new student flats have been welcomed by neighbouring businesses. 

London-based Bricks Group intends to provide purpose-built student accommodation at the former Eastern Electricity Board site at Duke's Wharf. 

This would result in around 700 new flats being created at the vacant site with existing buildings demolished.

The former Eastern Electricity Board site at Duke's Wharf in Norwich.

The former Eastern Electricity Board site at Duke's Wharf in Norwich. - Credit: Dan Grimmer

And independent traders in the nearby St Benedicts Street believe the plans would mean increased footfall if given the green light by the city council.

Mark Hedge, who owns Cookes Band Instruments, said: "Anything that puts a few more people on the street is a good thing. The more the merrier.

"There is a new student complex at the end of St Benedicts so we are definitely seeing more students walk up the street to get to the arts college in Duke Street." 

St Benedicts will continue to have outside dining areas down the street.
Mark Hedge, manager of Cook

St Benedicts will continue to have outside dining areas down the street. Mark Hedge, manager of Cookes Band Instruments Byline: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Developers intend to retain the existing Boardman Buildings at the Duke's Wharf site to provide co-living accommodation. 

And a new public riverside walk would provide access to a new café and gym.

Achraf Ayed, owner of Out Of The Blue barbers shop in St Benedicts Street, said: "I think it is starting to become a student area even before these plans. 

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"They definitely help the business. We see female and male students coming here but most of them are female."

Inside Out Of The Blue hair salon in St Benedicts Street 

Inside Out Of The Blue hair salon in St Benedicts Street - Credit: Out Of The Blue

It comes as a £42m contract for a new 684-bed student accommodation block has already been granted for St Crispin's House in Duke Street. 

Construction giants McAleer and Rushe were awarded a contract by Global Student Accommodation to strip out the building as the city's skyline continues to be transformed by swanky new student flats.

Students will benefit from new accommodation at St Crispin's House in Norwich

Students will benefit from new accommodation at St Crispin's House in Norwich - Credit: Contributed

Commenting on the latest application, a staff member at Norwich Art Supplies, who did not wish to be named, said: "I am sure it would have an impact and would probably be favourable in terms of footfall.

"We have got the residences at the bottom of St Benedicts Street and we have seen quite a few students from there. 

"It's good to rehabilitate Duke Street and bring the building back into use. That's always better than it being derelict."