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Planning complexity. An example from Norwich

November 27, 2020 11:01 AM
By Councillor Dave Busby

ln30 (Photo by Tom Juggins on Unsplash)Towering Inferno

Plans for the redevelopment of Anglia Square in Norwich have gone up in flames after Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick ruled that the development cannot go ahead. The area was set to be reinvigorated with 1,250 homes centred around a 20-storey tower block, a cinema, hotel and shops. The latest twist in this saga leaves the High Court as the final recourse for the developers.

The square was sold for redevelopment back in 2014 and received a £26million funding boost from the Government in 2018. At the end of the year the council approved the scheme and 12 months later so did the Inspectorate.

However, there were around 700 objections lodged against the proposal including Historic England, which called for the inquiry. Many of the hundreds of objectors were concerned that the tower block would have a negative impact on the skyline and could set a "precedent" for other development in the city. There were also claims "gentrification" would displace the existing local community.

On the other hand, some 120 supporting comments said Anglia Square and the derelict seven-storey Sovereign House needed a fresh look, with its redevelopment discussed for several years without progress. Developers Weston Homes had claimed it would make the area a "vibrant" location and the council said the scheme would have "a significant regenerative effect on the northern city centre.

The dilemma of planning - so where would you stand?

Mr Jenrick decided it did not protect and enhance the heritage assets of the city and that there were design flaws including apartments being single aspect. He concluded that, by giving considerable weight to the harm to some listed buildings in the area, the benefits did not outweigh the harm to the city's heritage.

Council leader Alan Waters said the decision makes it very unlikely Norwich will benefit from £15m in Government funding already allocated to the scheme.