My submission to the Anglia Square PGN consultation

My comments on the Anglia Square Policy Guidance Note.  Submitted on 9th January 2017.

The below numbers are the clauses in the draft PGN that I think they relate to.

 

A couple of items I think ought to be acknowledged within the background information:

3.4 – The cinema used to be one screen (I seem to recall), and therefore the architectural merit of this building has been somewhat compromised by splitting it into four screens.

3.5 – Sovereign House attracts a niche architectural interest for those who are fans of 60s Brutalist Architecture, and many people believe that this building should be preserved for this reason.  However, this is likely not to be practical or desirable for either the developer, or to be able to achieve the aims of the policy.  There will be some people who will be disappointed with this necessary demolition.

3.8 – There is no mention of the other buildings at this corner – Men’s Shed, Print to the People, the car wash.  Whilst not necessarily worth retaining, I think their presence ought to be acknowledged, especially since these are community-focused projects and companies which we ought to be encouraging in the new scheme.

3.12 – It would be good to acknowledge that the shared use footpath on Pitt Street, and indeed on New Botolph Street, is not ideal, as it brings pedestrians into conflict with cyclists.

3.13 – Can we also acknowledge that there is frequently heavy traffic on Pitt Street, New Botolph Street, St Augustines and St Crispins Road at peak hours, and the associated air quality concern that that raises? Also that this may be exacerbated by having a surface crossing over St Crispins, and therefore this needs to be a particular consideration when assessing the highways access to and from the site.

3.14 – I think it would make more sense for the references to building heights should all be in one section, so 3.17 should be either moved to after 3.14, or edited so that it is clearer what aspects of existing building heights constitutes a constraint to respect historic character, and what is just background information.  I would then include within the constraints something about respecting neighbouring building heights, particularly at the historically sensitive boundaries of the site (St Augustines/Pitt Street and Magdalen Street).

In response to consultation question 2: Yes, those principles are generally good, but I think it would be worth putting a caveat on the point about residential development that care ought to be taken not to degrade the positive aspects of the local character.

7.10 – Could the first bullet point be edited to incorporate the point above: i.e. add to the part within brackets “…, respecting local heritage and retaining a balanced community

7.15 – Whilst the issues raised in this clause is all true, given the changing patterns of office work (smaller units now preferred, often above shops or as part of mixed-use communities), we should be encouraging this type of office use on this site, rather than seeking more hard-to-fill large units, which there is already a good provision of in Norwich City Centre (albiet often requiring refurbishment!).

7.16 – This could be a good clause in which to acknowledge the desire for complementary nearby uses.

7.29 – This paragraph is a bit vague.  I fear that it may be hard to enforce this policy point if there are not specific aims in mind, such as what catchment area the site should serve, and what types of activity are desireable.

7.38 – The start of the paragraph on public transport suggests that further bus stop facilities should be on Magdalen Street only.  Can this be edited to suggest more explicitly that new bus stops may be more appropriate on Edward Street?

7.46 – This needs to acknowledge that there is a busy road between the new housing and Gildencroft Park.  Whilst this is not necessarily a massive issue, I don’t think it can be ignored entirely.

7.49 – Can this include some more specific ideas about potential use.  I think “potential entertainment space” is only really one potential use and it would be good to add other uses: “… festival activities, dances, farmers markets, exhibitions”.

IMPORTANT:

7.52 – Please add a new point after this about disabled access, particularly for the visually-impaired, as well as those who have mobility problems that don’t constitute disabilities (e.g. parents with small children and buggies, elderly).  With the NNAB being so close, I think it would be totally irresponsible of the council not to expect some thought to have gone into access for the visually impaired.

In response to consultation question 3: I think this should be developed as either an enterprise hub of temporary units for small start-up companies (such as the CReATES idea which you have no doubt heard about), or a public space for temporary markets, public entertainment and art exhibitions.

It may also be appropriate to provide an additional option for the cycle route under the flyover at this point, to provide a link for cyclists between the yellow route and Magdalen Street that does not have to go through the pedestrianised squares of the site and avoids having to disrupt traffic on St Crispins Road.

7.58 – Surely it should be “must” rather than “could also” in the final sentence.

7.61 – I think this should include a specific requirement for new squares and public areas to include trees and other soft landscaping.

Consultation question 4: I think this requires ongoing thought.  Whether improving St Augustines Church Hall is sufficient depends on the number of new dwellings on the Anglia Square site, and whether the church hall is easily accessible from them.  The Magdalen Street community does not currently look to St Augustines for its community facilities, so I don’t think this should be the only option.

7.72 – Add “and St Augustines Street” after “Magdalen Street”.

Response to consultation question 5: Views in BOTH directions at the junction of St Augustines Street and Pitt Street need to be considered (i.e. both in and out of the site), and it would be good to include these as two separate views to take into account.

7.107 – I would like to clarify that this means that their viability assessment would be made public and open to independent scrutiny?

I also submitted a detailed response to the developers’ own consultation: Anglia Square A Vision for the Future Consultation Response. I also copied this response to the council.

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