Concerns have emerged over plans to redevelop the Anglia Square area of the city centre. Anglia Square is currently the oldest of Norwich’s three large shopping centres, first developed in 1970 with architecture spawning from the brutalist movement.
Over 400 comments have been submitted since the original scheme was proposed, the majority of which are negative. The redevelopment project has been undertaken by Weston Homes Plc and Columbia Threadneedle Investments. Threadneedle is a global investment company, with 2,000 employees worldwide, suggesting that local businesses are unlikely to be at the forefront of the regeneration.
The Anglia Square website has said that these plans aim to ‘regenerate’ the area with a larger cinema, new hotel, over 1,200 new homes and a variety of shops and cafés which will be operating ‘through the day and into the evening.’ Plans for redevelopment have been underway since 2009, with multiple revisions due to public concerns. The most recent of these plans involved the reduction of a 25-storey tower block to 20 storeys.
Unfortunately for local businesses, the companies that invest in large shopping centres usually try to attract large chain stores in order to turn a profit. In addition to this, smaller businesses are unlikely to have the resources or number of employees to compete with big transnational corporations.
Intu Chapelfield alone houses several major shopping outlets and fast food chains. This trend often leads to such places becoming the homes to big businesses at the expense of local ones. Even the city’s hallowed market is now surrounded on all sides by large corporate firms, such as Tesco Express, Caffè Nero, Currys and a Three store.
Weston Homes Chairman and Chief Executive, Bob Weston, said: ‘We are committed to providing a successful future for the site and having invested three million pounds in the planning process so far, we hope that the revised scheme is granted consent. Weston Homes is a highly successful housebuilder of 30 years standing and we have the track record and financial stature to deliver on the revised proposals.’