After a planning committee meeting that lasted nearly eight hours, council members voted eight to five to authorize the 4.65-hectare megaproject, which replaces an earlier scheme with a 20-storey tower, which was rejected by the government in 2020.
The scheme, by developer Weston Homes and site owner Columbia Threadneedle, involves leveling a shopping center in the 1960s to make room for 14 buildings ranging from three to eight stories.
The controversial hybrid app has been particularly criticized by heritage activists, and has even sparked a competing proposal before Save the legacy of Britain and Ash Sakula.
SAVE program director Henrietta Billing said the organization was “disappointed” with the council’s decision, warning it risked “repeating the mistakes of the 1960s, with its public and inflated collections of flats”.
She said: ‘There is no reason why this city cannot demand the highest quality new development for its current and future citizens. This is a huge missed opportunity.
This is the second time the local authority has supported Weston Homes’ plans for the site. Four years ago, Norwich City Council and the Government Planning Inspector backed a proposal that would have built 1,250 homes on the site, including some in towers of up to 20 storeys, as well as a hotel, cinema and shops.
But then Housing Secretary Robert Jenrczyk He rejected an offer of £270m, citing “design flaws” and their impact on local heritage assets including several Grade I and II listed churches. He also criticized the number of one-sided homes in the proposals.
Weston Homes went back to the drawing board to design a “new scheme from scratch” to address the issues and hold “extensive consultations with the local community and key stakeholders”.
The developer said that because the world had “changed dramatically” since the first iterations of the scheme in 2016 – including the rise in digital retail – it was able to rethink all elements of the scheme’s commercial viability. This resulted in a 35 per cent reduction in the overall area of the development, and half of the homes were allowed to be duplexes, compared to 30 per cent in the original plans.
In early 2020Broadway Malyan and Weston Homes are back with revised plans, introducing a hybrid application to renovate the shopping district with 150 homes less, and an alternative 8,000-square-meter local center.2 Flexible retail and commercial spaces, plus a new community center, bike paths, two new public squares, and 450 parking spaces.
Broadway Malian said the new masterplan derives from “pre-war historical planning analysis” – including the re-creation of an old street route that would increase permeability through the site.
The practice also said that the new buildings would “refer directly to traditional Norwich residential housing, using contemporary reinterpretations of classic brick detailing and textures found on local streets”.
The initial phase of the scheme will create 353 homes – 279 for sale on the market, 58 for social rent and 16 condominiums. A further 747 homes are included in the plans, with the final residential mix to be determined by subsequent reserved matter applications.
As part of the local approval, Weston Homes will now take ownership of the Anglia Square site from landowner Columbia Threadneedle.
Weston Homes Chairman and Managing Director Bob Weston said: ‘We learned a lot from this project, by going back to the drawing board and consulting locally and designing a local scale scheme with features driven by the aspirations of Norwich residents rather than Weston Doors.
“We look forward to beginning to deliver this fantastic new development to the people of Norwich.”