A year at the Broadmarsh Centre – change, disappointment, optimism

More than 3,000 responses have been put forward ahead of a New Year’s Day deadline for how Nottingham’s Broadmarsh Centre site might be re-imagined.

2021 will see the ideas shaped into a masterplan for one of the most significant city-centre development sites in the country.

At the start of 2020, good progress was being made on the redevelopment of the centre, but the pandemic pushed former owners intu to administration and the site was handed back to Nottingham City Council in its present state.

Having reopened the walkway as a priority, talk was understandably rife about the future of the centre, and the council took the decision to open this up to the public for their input and ideas. The Big Conversation was launched over autumn, with more than 3,000 responses received ahead of the extended January 1s deadline, and a range of ideas presented by local people.

The council also reached out to young people, through engagement exercises with schools and Nottingham College, and with local businesses through dedicated round-table events to hear the views, aspirations and ideas of established and emerging Nottingham enterprises.

A wide range of ideas have been submitted so far that the Council will consider in the New Year, including green space, leisure opportunities, smaller shops, space for markets, tourist attractions and food outlets. The City Council has not, and will not, make any decisions until the feedback from the Big Conversation is assessed, when work will begin on a masterplan for the site and demolition of part of the centre thanks to funding from D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Nottingham City Council Leader, Councillor David Mellen, said: “The Big Conversation we have undertaken about the Broadmarsh site has really captured people’s imagination. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine a significant space right in the heart of one of the country’s Core Cities and build a new post-Covid vision for urban areas that is people-centred and green but also leads to jobs and housing, improving quality of life.   

“What has been interesting to see among the understandable desire for green space is the number of respondents who have called for this and something else – small shops, markets, offices, restaurants, entertainment – to complement the new space.

“We know that people really value open, green spaces in Nottingham, with more than 31 per cent of the city made up of green space, despite our tight urban boundary. We’ve also got 73 Green Flag parks –  more than any other council area. Nottingham aims to be the first carbon-neutral city in the UK. We’d want to see this ambition reflected in the future for Broadmarsh in some way.

“We will need to work in partnership with private and public-sector partners to develop any future plans, not least due to the financial pressures we and many other councils are facing at the moment. There are practical challenges with the site too, due to different height levels and the current structure being partly demolished. But a lot of important preparation work has already taken place as part of the previous development and we have funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership to carry out further demolition work.

“2020 didn’t work out as anyone planned and that was certainly the case for the Broadmarsh Centre. But it’s presented us with an unexpected opportunity which in 2021 we hope to shape together into something wonderful for our city.”

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