Talks over future of ‘eyesore’ Norwich tower

The fate of a building considered by many to be one of the ugliest in Norwich will come under the spotlight within the next fortnight – when council officers will meet its owners to discuss its future.

The 11-storey Westlegate Tower, which dwarfs its surroundings, has been empty for more than a decade and there have long been calls for it to be pulled down.

Back in 1959, when it was still on the drawing board, developers promised it would be 'a pencil of light' which would be a sparkling addition to the city's skyline.

It was approved without discussion at a meeting at City Hall'

With distinctive shields on one side of the tower, businesses were said to be queuing up to move in, but it has stood empty since 1996.

The McDonald's restaurant, which was the final tenant, on the ground floor, left to move into a new restaurant in the Haymarket.

The tower is owned by Friends Provident and a meeting has been scheduled between the company's representatives and officers at City Hall.

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A spokeswoman for the city council said: 'The next in a series of meetings with the owners of buildings on Westlegate is to be held later this month. We are discussing how we can work with the businesses to improve the street.'

Victoria Manthorpe, from civic watchdog The Norwich Society, said: 'I think this is very encouraging news. I think any kind of meeting about it is to be applauded and encouraged.

'It would be very good to see something done about it. We are not against high buildings completely, but that one is so out of scale with its surroundings and it has been empty for such a long time.'

The city council has long wanted to pedestrianise Westlegate and has won support from businesses such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer. However, attempts to close it were blocked because county and city councillors were at loggerheads.

But last year its proposed closure was outlined in the Norwich Area Transportation Strategy Implementation Plan – a 20-year blueprint for the transport system in and around the city.

Recently, more businesses have left the street and many of the empty shops are now used by artists displaying their work.

Would you like to see Westlegate Tower demolished? Or do you think it is unfairly branded an eyesore? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email