Multi-million revamp of Norwich store set for go-ahead

Sarah HallA major revamp of one of Norwich's flagship stores looks likely to move a step nearer next week - if members of Norwich City Council's planning committee give it the go-ahead.Sarah Hall

A major revamp of one of Norwich's flagship stores looks likely to move a step nearer next week - if members of Norwich City Council's planning committee give it the go-ahead.

Bosses at the Marks and Spencer store on the corner of Rampant Horse Street and St Stephen's Street are planning an ambitious upgrade to the store, which would turn it into one of the biggest M&S stores in the country.

The transformation would also create dozens of new jobs, while plans lodged with the city council reveal it would also feature a pioneering new 'living wall' - the first of its kind in Norwich - made up of plants which absorb pollution.

The 'living wall' proposed on the Malthouse Road frontage would consist of recycled panels, described as 'rather like egg boxes' by council officers, with plants inside.

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These plants, would be ones such as chrysanthemum, ivy, aloe vera and spider plant, which absorb and filter out toxins, and would get water from rain harvested on the store's roof.

The plans would see the demolition of buildings in Rampant Horse Street, including what used to be Burger King, and redevelopment of a four storey replacement building.

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M&S bosses hope that, and alterations elsewhere, will create an extra 2,880sq m of floorspace and enable the creation of a new caf� and more space to sell a new range of electrical items, including DVDs, cameras, camcorders and iPods.

Officers at City Hall are recommending that members of the council's planning committee grant approval for the scheme when they meet on Thursday .

English Heritage is happy with the plans for the building, which is in a conservation area, saying it will 'enhance' the area, but did raise concern over the 'living wall'.

Their submission to the council said: 'In the event that the application is to be approved it will be necessary to have some appropriate condition to require replacement planting in the event that this green wall fails.'

Civic watchdog The Norwich Society agreed, stating: 'Approve of this exiting development which will vastly improve this important corner.

'The 'living wall' plants will need to be of a sustainable type, and care and maintenance of the best quality, which in this case we think it will be. Dead and dying plants would not be a good advertisement.'

If permission is granted, the company, which is remaining tight-lipped about the cost of the revamp, is hoping to start work next month, with a completion date of October 2011.

Is your business planning a major makeover? Tell us about it by calling Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email

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