Historic England Strongly Objects to Revised Anglia Square Plans
Historic England strongly objects to revised proposals for a 20 storey tower in Norwich city centre as part of a planned redevelopment of Anglia Square and has submitted its advice to Norwich City Council this week (30 October 2018). The impact of the revised scheme would be so harmful that if the council was minded to approve it, Historic England would ask the Secretary of State to determine the scheme.
Historic England warns that the proposed redevelopment of the current 1960s buildings into three large blocks of up to 12 storeys and one 20 storey tower would have an extensive and severe impact on the extraordinary historic character of Norwich and the significance of the city’s greatest historic buildings. It would damage people’s appreciation of the Norman castle, the medieval cathedral, the Roman Catholic cathedral, City Hall and the numerous medieval churches which support them.
The reduction in height of the proposed tower from 25 to 20 stories would not reduce its impact on Norwich’s character. While it would not be visible from some of the historic places from which the original tower would have been seen, it would still radically disrupt the character of the cityscape.
John Neale, Historic England Planning Director in the East of England said:
”Norwich is one of the Europe’s great historic cities containing more medieval churches than any city north of the Alps and has large numbers of exceptional historic buildings, streets and spaces rich in character. While we recognise Anglia Square is in need of redevelopment, this 20 storey tower is certainly not the answer. Despite the reduction in height from 25 to 20 stories, it would still remain a prominent and alien feature.
“We believe plans for the square could be developed in a different way which would still unlock public benefits. Historic England is not against development, however we agree with the Council for British Archaeology, the Norwich Society and others that the proposed scheme is not the right one. Norwich deserves so much better.”
The scheme would have a severe negative impact on the city centre conservation area many important listed buildings and on the character of Norwich as a whole. The tower would intrude in views right across the city.
In views from St James’ Hill on Mousehold Heath and from Kett’s Heights, the proposed tower and the bulk of the greater part of the development would be seen in competition with the major landmarks in the south of the city, including the castle, City Hall, St Peter Mancroft and St Giles’ churches and the Anglican and Catholic cathedrals. Despite the elevated position of several of these buildings, and the height of the Anglican cathedral, the development would appear as a intrusive and distracting landmark.
Historic England hopes to see this revised application refused and is keen to discuss with Norwich City Council, the community and the land owners how Anglia Square might be redeveloped in a way more sympathetic to the character of this great historic city.