Damaging Planning Application for Norwich Goes to Public Enquiry
Secretary of State to determine Anglia Square development plans after Norwich City Council was minded to approve.
Historic England has welcomed the government’s decision to determine whether plans for a 20-storey tower as part of the Anglia Square redevelopment in Norwich city centre can go ahead. The plans for the shopping complex and tower were approved by Norwich City Council’s planning committee in December and Historic England immediately asked for the scheme to be called in.
We believe 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.
We welcome the Secretary of State’s decision to ‘call in’ this damaging scheme. 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 scheme with its 20-storey tower is certainly not the answer. 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 an intrusive and distracting landmark.
About Historic England
We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories these places tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all.