Weston Homes has cancelled its £300 million Anglia Square development.

The scheme, which was set to deliver up to 1,100 new homes as part of a mixed-use development across a 4.65-hectare site in Norwich, is, according to the developer, no longer viable.

The announcement by Weston Homes follows eight years of investment, work and consultation between the developer, Norwich City Council, locals and other stakeholders into the scheme which councillors voted to approve last April.

Weston Homes highlighted seven key issues which have caused delay and costs and made it unviable.

  • Planning delay after the original scheme, consented by Norwich City Council in 2018, was called in by then Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick who overturned council’s decision, sending Weston Homes back to the drawing board.
  • The effects of Covid and lockdowns which boosted home working and impacted demands for retail.
  • A 2022 nutrient neutrality directive from Natural England which prevented housing schemes across Norfolk until mitigation measures were in place. Delay and subsequent Government U-turns have added a £4m levy.
  • A drop in Marginal Viability Funding from Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund from £15m to £7m, caused by the delays.
  • Build cost inflation of more than 30 per cent.
  • An added £5.4m tax bill for the final two phases.
  • New design guidelines in the Government’s Building Safety Act (2022) which caused the scheme to be reduced by 100 homes.

Weston Homes has had to write off £7.5m and undertook a strategic review of the scheme’s viability.

Chairman and managing director Bob Weston said: “It is with deep regret that after eight years of hard work, substantial staff time and resources and some £7.5m of capital expenditure Weston Homes has been forced to cancel our plans for the redevelopment of Anglia Square.

“I am personally gutted to have to write-off millions of pounds of company investment and not have a new scheme to show at the end of the venture. Weston Homes has bent-over-backwards to make this work and we have worked closely with Norwich City Council and the people of Norwich to try and realise a scheme that meets both local aspirations and is financially viable. I would like to add that throughout the eight-year process, Norwich City Council cabinet and officers have worked tirelessly to facilitate the redevelopment of Anglia Square.

“There are sadly no winners with this outcome. The city and people of Norwich, Weston Homes and Anglia Square are all victims of this deeply unfortunate situation.

“This was a development calculated to create circa 2,211 direct construction jobs, another circa 288 jobs in the completed retail and commercial premises, with the residents of the new housing calculated to spend up to £36.4m per annum in the local Norwich economy. None of this will now happen.

“The core contributor to a lot of the issues in this saga is the Conservative Government, which seems to have no understanding of the importance of supporting the housebuilding industry, regional cities and local communities in the UK.

“In the Ending Stagnation Report: A New Economic Strategy for Britain, recently published by the Resolution Foundation & Centre for Economic Performance, LSE provided a damning criticism of the Conservative Government and Anglia Square is a textbook case study that could be added to the report.” 

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