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Crunch time for £100m Norwich Anglia Square scheme

An artist's impression of what the new Calvert Square might look like.

An artist's impression of what the new Calvert Square might look like.

A make or break decision is due on whether the long-awaited revamp of Anglia Square, described as "arguably the most significant development seen in Norwich for a decade," will go ahead.

Plans for a £100m revamp of the shopping centre, including a new supermarket, shops, homes, a gym and restaurants, which had previously won approval. had stalled because of the credit crunch.

But, after long-running talks between developers Centenary Ashcroft and Norwich City Council to thrash out the details of the proposal, the scheme could be about to take a huge step forward.

The proposals include a 7,792 square metre foodstore and new shops and restaurants to the east of the enlarged square.

Gildengate House will be reclad and updated to provide modern office space, but Sovereign House will be knocked down.

The multi-storey car park at Anglia Square, which will be named Calvert Square after a Norwich sheriff, will be replaced with two-level roof-top car parking.

The number of new homes has been reduced from 198 to 136, with 49 affordable homes, while the Hollywood cinema will be retained at this stage and there is scope for a gym or swimming pool.

There are also plans for a creche.

While City Hall officers concede there is still a need for further discussions for the plans to be considered acceptable, they have taken the unusual step of bringing it before the council’s planning committee even though further work needs to be done.

Councillors will be asked on Thursday to support the principle of development and leave it to officers to fine tune the scheme with the developers.

Rob Parkinson, senior planning officer, said: “The proposals are complicated and it is fair to note that in certain aspects they are some considerable way from what may be regarded as ideal.

“However, they represent a significant opportunity to secure a major redevelopment and, bearing in mind the process by which these proposals have been arrived at, officers are enthusiastic about what they will deliver.
“On balance, they are considered to be a significant improvement on the previously approved proposals and, if implemented in full, should uplift a significant area of the city centre with impacts stretching far beyond Anglia Square itself.”

Officers said “the key risk” with the proposal is that the first phase, including the revamp of the square itself, the creation of the foodstore, 91 homes and a 500+ space car park, could happen but then the other elements, such as the rest of the homes, restaurants and bars and the gym, might not.

Mr Parkinson said: “If this happens the overall result will be highly unsatisfactory, the development will not be of a coherent design and will not provide the impetus for regeneration in the wider area.”

But he said the district valuer had said it was in the applicant’s interests to complete the development and so much demolition would have to take place before any work happened that the area would be much more attractive to other future developers.

Ranald Phillips, a director of developers Centenary Ashcroft, said when the plans were lodged in January that he thought the revised scheme was an improvement on previous plans.

However. the scheme has angered the Norwich Cycling Campaign, who have criticised cycling connections at the development as “inadequate”.

• Are you keen to see the revamp of Anglia Square? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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