Anglia Square’s £271m refurbishment refused by government official

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Robert Jenrick, has ruled that plans for Anglia Square’s controversial redevelopment cannot go ahead.

The £271m refurbishment plans involved building a 20-storey tower block, shops, a hotel and a cinema.  Over 1,200 homes would have been added to the area.

Norwich city council approved the plans in 2018, and the planning inspectorate recommended that the scheme should be permitted following a 15-day inquiry that took place earlier this year.

Despite this, local government secretary Robert Jenrick said the tower was of “excessive size in relation to its context” and that the plans “did not protect and enhance the heritage assets of the city”.

The proposal received 700 objections, with many expressing concerns that the tower block could have a negative effect on the skyline and could potentially pave the way for other development in Norwich of the same nature.

Marcus Binney of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, who campaigned against the scheme, said it was “the most monstrous carbuncle that ever threatened to deface an English cathedral city”.

The government inquiry was called for by Historic England, who said “while we recognise Anglia Square is in need of redevelopment, this scheme with its 20-storey tower is certainly not the answer”.  They expressed worries about the damaging impacts that the plans would have on Norwich’s character.

Threadneedle Development and Weston Homes, the developers who submitted the proposal, were extremely disappointed by the ruling. 

Chairman and CEO of Weston Homes, Bob Weston, said the secretary of state “has gone against local democracy” and has “chosen to refuse a massive investment opportunity for the city” during a time of “extreme economic hardship”.  He added that Weston Homes are seeking to get Jenrick’s ruling overturned in the High Court.

Norwich city council leader Alan Waters also said he was “very disappointed” at the secretary’s decision to reject the plans.

While the ‘brutalist’, concrete architecture currently found in Anglia square might seem outdated to some, it definitely wouldn’t seem too unfamiliar to the students here at UEA.


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Alice Pritchard

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November 2021
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