Date revealed for when crucial Anglia Square £271m revamp report must be lodged

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The report which will recommend whether the £271m revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square should go ahead or not is being written up, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Revamp plans for Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes

Revamp plans for Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

Inspector David Prentis is writing up his report into matters around the controversial revamp - and it will be submitted to the government on or before June 17.

Plans for the shopping centre, lodged by Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes, had been approved by Norwich City Council.

The plans include more than 1,200 new homes, including in a 20-storey tower, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops.

But the proposals attracted fierce criticism, due to the massing and height of the revamp and its impact on the historic city skyscape, including Norwich Cathedral.

Tthe planning inquiry into Anglia Square at CIty Hall. Picture: Archant

Tthe planning inquiry into Anglia Square at CIty Hall. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

While council officers conceded harm would be done, they said it was outweighed by social and economic benefits.

Despite the objections, Norwich City Council’s planning committee voted, by seven votes to five, to give the go-ahead at a meeting in December 2018.But, at the request of opponents, including heritage watchdog Historic England, the matter was called in by the government.

And that triggered a four week planning inquiry into the issues, held at City Hall in January and February.

At that inquiry, those in favour and against the application gave evidence in front of Mr Prentis.And the Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that, despite the pandemic, Mr Prentis is currently working to write up the report, following the inquiry.

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In his report, after weighing up the evidence submitted at the planning inquiry, Mr Prentis will make a recommendation on whether the scheme should go ahead or not.

However, the final decision rests with the government’s secretary of state Robert Jenrick, who can back the recommendation or ignore it.

Although Mr Prentis must get his report in to the government before or on June 17, it remains to be seen just how quickly Mr Jenrick will make a decision.

And if he does say the scheme can go ahead, the economic hit caused by the pandemic and actions to limit its spread is likely to be a factor in whether the developer still has the appetite to embark on such a huge building project.