Former Anglia Square boss rates chances of £271m revamp at 50:50
PUBLISHED: 12:32 16 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:32 16 July 2020
The former manager of Norwich’s Anglia Square rates the chances of the shopping centre’s controversial revamp getting the go-ahead at 50/50.
But Eric Kirk, manager of the square for five years until earlier this year, said if the £271m development does not happen, he fears for the complex’s future.
Mr Kirk, who also used to manage Norwich’s Castle Mall and is chairman of the Magdalen Street and Anglia Square Traders Association (MATA), said the square cannot be saved in its current form and condition.
The Anglia Square proposals, by Columbia Threadneedle and Weston Homes, include 1,200 new homes in a 20-storey tower, a hotel, cinema, car parks and new shops.
Plans were approved by Norwich City Council in 2018. But, at the request of opponents concerned over its impact on the heritage of Norwich, it was called in by the government.
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That triggered a four-week planning inquiry and inspector Dave Prentis has submitted a recommendation on whether or not the scheme should go ahead.
The final decision rests with communities secretary Robert Jenrick, who has found himself at the centre of controversy.
Mr Kirk said: “When he became secretary of state, I thought the chances it would happen went up from 40pc to 70pc. The trouble is that he has found himself caught up in controversy, so every decision he makes is now going to looked at so carefully that he is going to be extremely cautious, so I think chances are now 50/50.”
But Mr Kirk said the revamp needed to go ahead, for the good of shoppers, traders and people who need housing in the city.
He said: “It’s unsustainable in its current state. It’s had numerous owners over the years and some of them did not spend money on it. The current owners did, to keep it safe, while they wait for this permission.”
Mr Kirk said the flats were an essential part of the scheme. He said: “If you took them away, then you take away the opportunity to create new shops. The flats are what would subsidise the rents for the traders.”
And Mr Kirk said he did not believe the developers wanted to gentrify the area, but to continue to serve local people. He said: “I think the intention was always to have a mix, so there’s a balance between the likes of Peter the butcher, along with national traders. That was the plan for going forward.”
Mr Jenrick has until September 7 to give his decision.
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