Claims rival Anglia Square plan 'will cost taxpayers £100m'

An alternative vision has been presented for Anglia Square to rival Weston Homes 

An alternative vision has been presented for Anglia Square to rival Weston Homes - Credit: Save Britain's Heritage/Ash Sakula Architects

The developer behind plans to transform Anglia Square has slammed an alternative vision claiming it will cost £100m of taxpayers' money.

A bitter war of words has broken out between Weston Homes and Save Britain's Heritage.

Weston Homes, the original applicant, submitted plans to Norwich City Council in April for up to 1,100 homes as well as retail and commercial space at the 11.5 acre site.

The scheme, put forward with site owner Columbia Threadneedle, includes 14 buildings which range from three to eight storeys.

However in July Save Britain's Heritage lodged an alternative vision to the council for 773 new homes with direct access to outdoor space.

The organisation believes its plan would provide a "more sympathetic, contextual and lower-rise development based around streets". 

Weston Homes said these plans, designed by Ash Sakula Architects, "fail to take into account real world economics and planning procedures and will need £100+ million of public subsidy funding – as a result they are not financially viable".

Bob Weston, chairman and chief executive of Weston Homes. Pic: Weston Homes.

Bob Weston, chairman and managing director of Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

Bob Weston, chairman and managing director of Weston Homes, added: “We have invested £6m in the public consultation and planning process. 

"Our scheme is marginally viable and without excessive profit. Weston Homes remains committed to finding a viable future for Anglia Square."

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Steve Hatton, planning and design director of Weston Homes, said the plans "are based on a few months' work centred around concept sketches and proposals that misrepresent a complex brief".

He added he believes the Save Britain's Heritage proposal would "never get built", whereas Weston Homes' plan is deliverable. 

Meanwhile Save Britain's Heritage said Weston Homes project would be "a monstrous carbuncle on the face of one of England’s finest cathedral cities".

It added it "failed to provide the kind of housing needed".

Marcus Binney, executive president of Save Britain's Heritage

Marcus Binney, executive president of Save Britain's Heritage - Credit: Save Britain's Heritage

Marcus Binney, executive president of the group, said: "It is nonsense to say that the Weston Homes schemes is the only formula that will work.

"There are numerous examples of different models of new housing in Norwich some of them in the vicinity of Anglia Square.

"Many of these are in three and four-storey blocks, not the eight storeys which Weston Homes propose.

"The young people of Norwich do not want to be stuffed into airless chicken coop flats."

History of Anglia Square

Anglia Square was built off Magdalen Street in the early 1970s and its design was heavily influenced by brutalist architecture. 

Weston Homes put forward its first set of regeneration plans in 2018.

These included 1,250 homes, a 20-storey high rise tower, cinema, hotel and shops.

Norwich City Council backed the plans that year despite around 700 objections being made against the vision.

But in 2020 the plans were rejected by the secretary of state Robert Jenrick because of the height and massing of buildings.

Weston Homes resubmitted new plans, which included removing the controversial tower block.

The development is down from 428,465 sq ft to 80,369 sq ft, while the overall floorspace is cut from more than 1.9 million to 1.23 million sq ft.