Council spending £350,000 on lawyers for Anglia Square revamp inquiry

PUBLISHED: 10:34 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:24 09 January 2020

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Anglia Square. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Council bosses are spending £350,000 on lawyers to help justify the decision to give the go-ahead for the controversial Anglia Square redevelopment.

The plans for Anglia Square include a 20-storey tower. Photo: Weston HomesThe plans for Anglia Square include a 20-storey tower. Photo: Weston Homes

Norwich City Council's planning committee granted permission for the £271m revamp in 2018.

But the decision was called in by the government at the request of objectors, including Historic England, who said the scheme would cause harm to the city's historic landscape, including Norwich Cathedral.

That has triggered a three week public inquiry, starting at City Hall on Tuesday, January 28. Parties for and against will give evidence before a planning inspector.

Afterwards, the inspector will make a recommendation on whether the plans should go ahead or not. The secretary of state can follow that, or ignore it.

And City Hall is paying £355,000 to legal firm Trowers & Hamlins to help make the case that officers were right to recommend approval and the planning committee was right to grant it.

A city council spokesman said: "The call in of this planning application by the secretary of state has had cost implications for all parties involved in the inquiry.

The council has budgeted for £350,000 to cover legal and other external professional services."

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The plans for Anglia Square, from Weston Homes, would see 1,234 new homes, a leisure quarter with a cinema, car parks and a 200-bed hotel.

But the scheme - and its 20-storey tower - is opposed by Historic England, SAVE Britain's Heritage, the Victorian Society, the Norwich Society and others.

Opponents have organised a public meeting at The Forum in Norwich, where groups will explain their objections. It will take place from 5.30pm on Tuesday, January 14.

Meanwhile, the fate of millions crucial to the development, should become clearer next week.

The council had been told it would get £12.2m of government money for infrastructure for the development, but feared the inquiry would mean the deadline for spending it would be missed.

However, the government has said the cash, now increased to £15m, would still be available if the scheme is given permission.

The council's Labour-controlled cabinet is due to agree a contract with Homes England on Wednesday.

A decision was due to be made last month, but was put off due to the general election.

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