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Plans lodged for £90m Norwich shoe factory revamp, with promise of 500 jobs

PUBLISHED: 12:33 28 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:14 28 March 2019

An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.

An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.

Our Place

Proposals for a £90m revamp of a former Norwich shoe factory and the surrounding area have been lodged, with developers saying it could create 500 jobs.

An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.

Detailed plans for The Shoe Quarter development on the St Mary’s Works site, off Duke Street, have been submitted to Norwich City Council.

The city council’s planning committee granted outline permission to developers Our Place in January last year and the company, which specialises in urban regeneration, has now lodged detailed design proposals.

The plans would see the area, including the former Sexton, Son and Everard shoe factory, transformed, with 152 new homes, a hotel, shops and office space.

The developers say 500 jobs would be created through new employment spaces, including co-working office space, workshops, studios and incubator space - where small, growing companies can start up.

An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.

When outline permission was granted, there was criticism that the scheme would include just four affordable homes, or a sum of £353,000 in lieu of them.
But the developers say they have made changes to improve on some “inefficiencies” in the permitted outline scheme and have responded to views from residents and businesses.

Our Place has said it will make a community contribution in the region of £2m, through the community infrastructure levy, affordable housing and renovations to nearby churchyards of St Mary’s and St Michael’s.

Dominic Richards, chief executive of Our Place, said: “At Our Place we take the time to listen to the community and to invest in long-term placemaking.

“I am thrilled with our plans for St Mary’s Works which will leave a legacy the city can be proud of.

An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.An artist's impression of how the regenerated St Mary's Works site could look. Pic: Our Place.

“Norwich is both historic and vibrant, and the new St Mary’s Works scheme respects tradition and embraces the future. This can be seen in how we are retaining the former Shoe Factory and reinventing it as an incubator space.

“Our Place is committed to the future of Norwich – and we look forward to seeing these plans become a reality later this year.”

Our Place has already regenerated St George’s Works in Colegate into a business centre for local entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized companies.

A decision will be made by the city council in due course.

Dominic Richards, director of Our Place at St Marys Works. Pic: Neil Perry.Dominic Richards, director of Our Place at St Marys Works. Pic: Neil Perry.

What is St Mary’s Works?

St Mary’s Works was formerly the site of shoe maker Sexton, Son and Everard.

The factory was built in the 1920s, when the shoe manufacturer, founded by Henry Sexton, employed more than 500 people.

The old St Marys Works shoe factory in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.The old St Marys Works shoe factory in Norwich. Pic: Neil Perry.

During the next couple of decades, the company became one of the largest producers of shoes in the city and it continued to prosper following the Second World War.

Among other products, it produced Joyce shoes from the United States of America, under licence.

Mr Sexton, to give something back to the city which had helped him make his fortune, regenerated the Assembly House as a public resource and gave it back to the city.

But, by the late 1960s, overseas competition started to take its toll on the company.

The closing room at Sexton Son & Everard  shoe factory in 1959. Pic: Archant Library.The closing room at Sexton Son & Everard shoe factory in 1959. Pic: Archant Library.

In 1972, receivers were called in, making 750 people redundant, before the factory then closed.

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