ANGLIA SQUARE & REDEVELOPMENT
In November 2020, the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government, the Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick MP, rejected plans to redevelop Anglia Square, citing the harm to the local heritage, the poor quality of the design and its over-massing and excessive height.
Anglia Square, constructed largely in concrete in the late 1960s/early 1970s in the Modernist style with Brutalist architectural elements such as the former HMSO HQ, Sovereign House, is the largest shopping precinct in the northern city centre area of Norwich. Controversial at the time of its construction because of the large number of buildings, some of the 18th century or earlier, that were demolished and medieval street patterns that were lost to make way for it, it has arguably never attained the potential once envisaged for it as a major commercial and retail hub and parts remain incomplete, including the second floor gallery area.
Since the late 1990s the two large office blocks that dominate the west and north sides of the Square - Sovereign House and Gildencroft House - have largely been unoccupied and unused, and in the former building's case is now showing signs of serious dilapidation. Over the decades major retailers and businesses, such as HMSO, Barclays, Sainsbury's, Fine Fare, Victoria Wines, Budgens and Odeon Cinemas have departed, and the Square's multi-storey car park has been closed for several years. On the plus side high street retailers Boots, Greggs, Hollywood Cinemas, Iceland, Poundland and QD remain, while several smaller independent traders have carved out a successful niche market there.
Anglia Square has had to the best of our knowledge four owners since 2000. Each to a larger or lesser extent has proposed schemes to revitalise it, but none so far (up to 2017) has come to fruition.
Plans lodged by Weston Homes and Columbia Threadneedle for the comprehensive redevelopment of Anglia Square are rejected by the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government, the Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick MP. This followed Norwich City Council's Planning Committee's decision in December 2018 on a 7 to 5 vote (with one absence due to ill-heath) to approve the plans, which decision was subsequently called-in by bodies including Historic England, Dave our Heritage, the Norwich Cycling Campaign and the Norwich Society.
January-February. Planning Inquiry takes place at City Hall.
Planning decision taken by NCC in December 2018 is called in for review by the Secretary of State for Communities, Housing and Local Government, the Rt Hon. James Brokenshire MP.
December. NCC Planning Committee approve the redevelopment plans for Anglia Square.
November-December. The new owners of Anglia Square, Columbia Threadneedle, and their partners, Weston Homes, hold a public consultation on their plans for the area, which include demolition and rebuilding of virtually the entire estate in three phases over several years; building more than 1000 homes with shops and other amenities around two public spaces. Meanwhile, Norwich City Council has published a 62 page Policy Guidance Note inviting the public to comment. Deadline 9/1/17. See:
9 June. Anglia Square has been sold for just £7.55 million (it was previously sold for an estimated £36 million in 2006):
30 May. After months of speculation, the sale of Anglia Square has finally been announced. For more details, follow the link:
9 June. Norwich City Council's Planning Committee reached a decision to support in principal the Anglia Square developer's revised plans for the area (see 25 Feb. entry below). To read the Council's report with its recommended amendments to the plans click here. It is now expected that work will begin in 2012.
25 February. Revised plans for the redevelopment of Anglia Square have now been validated by Norwich City Council Planning Department and are available for public scrutiny at City Hall (2nd Floor) or online at http://www.norwich.gov.uk under Planning> Public Access. The planning application reference numbers are:
11/00160/F (covering phase 1a)
11/00161/F (covering phases 1b and 2a)
11/00162/O (covering phase 2b)
11/00163/C (covering demolition and conservation)
The public has until 6 April to make any comments on the plans. The Planning Department's determination is expected at the end of May 2011.
20 January. A report in the Norwich Evening News (link) suggests that the developers of Anglia Square were now ready to lodge their revised plans for the area at City Hall later this week. Meanwhile, it was announced that Barclays were closing their branch in Magdalen Street permamently on 8 April and moving to new premises in Whitefriars
13 September. There will an exhibition of the developer's revised plans in the former CC Cards shop in Anglia Square on 23, 24 and 25 September.
7 September. The developers of Anglia Square, now known as Centenary Investments, are about to go public with their (second) revised plans for the scheme. There will be an exhibition in one of the vacant shops in Anglia Square this month and a presentation at St Augustine's Hall on 30 September at 7.00 p.m. All welcome.
16 June. News that owners of Anglia Square are seeking revised planning consent in order to reduce the total number of dwellings to be built in the development.
27 Jan. It what is their first public statement on Anglia Square since October 2009, Centenary Ashcroft tell Norwich Evening News that they are seeking permisson from Norwich City Council to revise their plans for the Square, in particular to reduce the number of houses to be built there (200) to reflect the downturn in the housing market. All being well, work could start in 2011.
5 Jan. Work on the St Augustine's gyratory begins. A new road is being built across the northern end of Anglia Square's surface car parks in Botolph Street. This will link Edward Street with Pitt Street to create a new south-bound route for traffic that currently uses St Augustine's Street.
N.B. In December the multi-storey car park reopens under new management
November. The last piece of the complex planning jigsaw drops into place as the owners of Anglia Square reach agreement with the City Council over the use of a strip of land at the northern end of the surface car parks in Botolph Street on which a new road, part of the St Augustine's Gyratory road system, is to be built linking Edward Street and Pitt Street.
October. On 12 October Norwich Evening News reports that the 730-space multi-storey car park in Anglia Square is to close within days as the lease held by NCP is about to expire. This closure represents a huge reduction in car parking spaces in the area (more than 50%) and it is feared it will have an adverse effect on the local economy. A director of Centenary Ashcroft says the facility will either remain closed until the redevelopment of the Square gets underway, which was now looking to be more likely to be in 2011 than 2010, or alternatively it could reopen sooner if necessary repairs to the structure were found to be economically viable. On 17 October, some "good" news for a change: the City Council and the owners of Anglia Square have finally signed the Section 106 agreement which completes the formal planning permission process. The developers have agreed to contribute £525,000 to local amenities once building gets under way; these will include funding for local transport infrastructure improvements, improvements to the Leonard Street green space and play area, grants to local schools and £40,000 worth of renovations to St Augustine's Memorial Hall.
February. Norwich Evening News (3.2.09) confirms rumours that the redevelopment of Anglia Square has been put on hold. Mr Ranald Phillips, a director of the developers, Centenary Ashcroft, blaims this on the economic downturn and credit cruch: "It's going to take a while for the housing market to recover to justify building huidreds of new homes ... There's nohing we can do about that ... When the banks sort their muddle out, then we will start to move on."
ACT have invited Mr Phillips to our next community meeting on 21 April, but so far he has not responded. Meanwhile, we will be seeking assurances from Norwich City Council that other important elements of the Northern City Centre Area Action Plan, such as tackling poor air quality in St Augustine's Street and the provision of much-needed local amentities are not compromised by this set back.
December. During the summer the owners of Anglia Square made revised applications for planning permission to demolish some existing structures and build new ones. These were approved by Norwich City Council with certain provisions on 11 December 2008. The owners now have five years to complete the work before their planning permission expires. They will be unable to start demolition until contracts are in place to built the new square.
July. Plans put to Norwich City Council for planning permission in the spring of 2008 have been withdrawn. Revised plans are being submitted that take account of the current slowdown in the economy and the anticipated contraction in the housing market, with the number of apartments and houses in the plans being reduced from 450 to around 200, and the proposed 19-storey residential tower block being reduced to perhaps a third of this height.