Council recommends reduced 20-storey scheme for approval
Historic England is threatening to demand that a controversial Broadway Malyan scheme in Norwich be determined by the housing secretary.
The 4.5ha Anglia Square project just north of the city centre would replace a 1960s development with three buildings of up to 12 storeys and a tower of 20.
Broadway Malyan has already lopped five storeys off the tower in response to opposition from heritage groups and local residents.
Council officers have now recommended the retail-led scheme for approval at Thursday’s committee meeting.
The plans, lodged earlier this year by Weston Homes and landowner Columbia Threadneedle, include up to 1,250 new homes, a hotel, cinema, multi-storey car parks, a place of worship and ground-floor retail and commercial space.
John Neale, Historic England planning director in the East of England, said the reduced 20-storey tower would still “radically disrupt the character of the cityscape” and would intrude in many views.
He added: “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.”
A design review carried out last year by Design SE said: “There is a serious danger this scheme will create a series of dark, uninviting streets and spaces that will not feel like, nor be used as an integrated and integral part of the City. The quality of accommodation provided is also a concern, with such limited access to daylight and natural ventilation.”
Broadway Malyan declined to comment but Weston Homes managing director Bob Weston has previously defended his plans, saying they would “clear away 20 years of dereliction”.