New hotel could 'destroy character of Norwich Lanes'

Plans for Chamberlain House in Norwich

Plans for the hotel at Chamberlain House, as viewed from Pottergate. - Credit: AWW

The character of Norwich's Lanes could be damaged if plans for a new multi-million pound hotel are permitted, a traders association has warned.

Tesco Metro on Guildhall Hill, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Norwich Lanes Association has objected to the plans for the new hotel above Tesco Metro. - Credit: Archant

Plans for the 91-bedroom hotel, in Chamberlain House, in Guildhall Hill - above and behind the Tesco Metro store - were lodged with Norwich City Council in April.

The plans for the Victorian building would see empty offices turned into hotel rooms, with an extension where the superstore's loading yard is.

The Tesco store would remain, as would shops in Dove Street, while new retail units would be created at the back.

But the Norwich Lanes Association has tabled an objection to the proposals, fearing the arrival of a chain hotel and national brands in the new retail units.

Lower Goat Lane in Norwich Lanes. Picture: Denise Bradley

Norwich Lanes Association fears plans for a hotel could lead to chains moving in. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2012

A spokesman for the association said: "The Norwich Lanes Association was set up some years ago, to repel the threat of large corporations crushing the city’s famous independent retail and hospitality sector and those very same principles apply today.

"The Lanes have since gone from strength to strength and pre-pandemic were bucking the national trend with good trading figures all year round and it’s the unique, all independent nature of the area that has made it that way.

"We would like to think that Norwich City Council, the largest property owner in the Lanes, will also see it that way.

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“If you let one corporation in to the Lanes, the brands and chains may well follow.

"When this has happened in other independent areas across the UK, the rents have risen, the visitor numbers have dwindled, so culturally and economically, this would a disaster."

Ahead of the submission of revised plans, consultation was carried out and John Walker, of property consultants Ward Hill Walker, said that had been "very positive".

He said bringing the 120-year old building back into use would attract thousands of visitors into the city centre and create new jobs.

Civic watchdog The Norwich Society supports the proposal, while highways officers at Norfolk County Council are content it would be acceptable, subject to a number of conditions.

A decision will be made by the city council's planning committee in due course.