PRESS RELEASE: SAVE Rallies Support for Norwich Public Inquiry

10th December 2019

SAVE Britain's Heritage is rallying support for the Norwich public inquiry against a highly controversial 20 storey tower planned in the centre of the medieval city. If built, the tower would have a calamitous effect on the character of this magnificent medieval city: at 60m, it would be the tallest building after the cathedral.  

We are appearing alongside Historic England and The Norwich Society at the independent inquiry which kicks off in January 2020, strongly opposed to the mega structure which would have a colossal impact on the city. The scheme is also set to receive £15m in public subsidy to make it deliverable. 

Under the plans submitted by Weston Homes and approved by Norwich City Council in December 2018, Anglia Square would be comprehensively redeveloped for up to 1250 dwellings, hotel, retail and commercial floorspace. The scheme includes a 20 storey tower and blocks of 4-12 storeys, replacing existing post-war structures and older buildings on the site. Anglia Square sits in the City Centre Conservation Area and a number of grade I and grade II listed buildings surround it. 

We believe the square could be re-developed in a different way which would unlock public benefits without harming the historic character of the city with a 20 storey tower. SAVE Britain's Heritage is not against development, however we agree with Historic England, the Norwich Society and others that this city deserves better.

Henrietta Billings, Director of SAVE Britain's Heritage says: "Norwich's status as one of the most important medieval cities in England and in northern Europe is undisputed. Its skyline is a crucial and widely appreciated part of its character. As the award-winning low-rise Goldsmith Street scheme, built less than 1 mile from Anglia Square shows, context is everything. Norwich City Council can and should demand better. Why is £15m of public money being wasted on highly controversial scheme which will cause such long lasting harm?"

Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE Britain's Heritage says: "England's proud medieval cathedrals have dominated many of the country's finest and most historic cities for centuries.  It is nothing short of an utter disgrace that at the beginning of the third millennium their undisputed glories should by dimmed and diminished in this crude fashion." 

Paul Burall, Chair of The Norwich Society said: "The tower is bad enough but it is the sheer density of the scheme that is the key problem. The 12 storey block fronting the pavement on St Crispin's roundabout is just as damaging. This development will harm the economy of the City by making it less attractive for professional and skilled people to come and live and work here."

GIFF showing the current view from Norwich Castle ramparts looking north towards Anglia Square and the applicant's impression of the same view with the proposed development, highlighted in colour by SAVE (Images: Planning Documents) 


Acting for SAVE at the inquiry is Alec Forshaw, former principal of conservation and design at Islington Borough Council. In his submission to the inquiry, he states: "The tower will have a seriously harmful visual impact by intruding into the historic skyline of the city." The rest of the development would result in a massing "that is totally alien within the context of central Norwich."

He continues: "The proposal is a mega-structure completely alien to its context and the character of medieval and pre-war Norwich. It replaces a failed example of a 1960s comprehensive redevelopment with something that promises to be even more disastrous."

The planning application was granted planning permission by Norwich City Council on 6th December 2018 but was called in for public inquiry by the Secretary of State in March 2019. The final decision on the future of Anglia Square will be made by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The public inquiry begins on 28th January 2020 in Norwich and is set to last for three weeks.


Note to editors:

1. For more information and images contact Ben Oakley, Conservation Officer at SAVE Britain's Heritage: / 020 7253 3500.

2. All images taken from Planning Documents unless otherwise stated.

3. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.