Date for final decision over fate of Anglia Square revamp revealed

A 20-storey tower is part of the mooted revamp of Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes

A 20-storey tower is part of the mooted revamp of Anglia Square. Photo: Weston Homes - Credit: Weston Homes

A decision on whether the controversial revamp of Norwich’s Anglia Square will be allowed now rests in the hands of just one man - and will be made within three months.

Planning inspector David Prentis has weighed up the evidence presented at a public inquiry into the £271m revamp and handed his recommendation on whether the scheme should go ahead or not to the government.

It means the centre’s fate is now down to local government secretary Robert Jenrick. He will consider the Planning Inspectorate report and his final decision will determine whether the scheme is permitted.

He has until September 7 to issue a decision on one of the most contentious - and largest - developments in Norwich for decades.

Plans for the shopping centre, lodged by Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes, were approved by Norwich City Council’s planning committee in 2018.

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

But the proposals attracted fierce criticism, due to the massing and height and its impact on the historic city skyscape, including Norwich Cathedral.While City Hall officers conceded harm would be done, they said it was outweighed by social and economic benefits and the planning committee voted in favour, by seven votes to five.However, the matter was called in by the government at the request of opponents, including heritage watchdog Historic England, which triggered a four week planning inquiry into the issues, held at City Hall in January and February.

Historic England, SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the Norwich Society, the Norwich Cycling Campaign, and the Cathedral Magdalen and St Augustine’s Forum were among objectors who sought to persuade the inspector to recommend the scheme is not given the green light.

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But Russell Harris, QC, for the applicants, told the inquiry: “The time has come to meet the challenges posed by the requirement to assist a part of Norwich and its population that the 21st Century left behind.”

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

What planning inspector Mr Prentis has recommended is not made public at this stage.

Secretary of state Mr Jenrick can back his recommendation or could choose to ignore it.

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Anglia Square.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant