The Broadmarsh Big Conversation really was big – the largest City Council consultation response ever.

Held over the autumn through a website, app and in person at a pop-up shop on Lister Gate, it attracted over 3,000 individual responses and 11,000 comments from local residents, businesses and business groups, charities, campaign groups, schools, colleges and national architects.

The huge response to the Big Conversation was discussed at the first meeting of the Greater Broadmarsh Advisory Group last week.

Chaired by former director of London 2012 Greg Nugent, the independent panel of local and national advisors has been established to help the Council shape a new vision for the Broadmarsh area, complementing current developments at Broadmarsh Car Park, Bus Station, new Central Library, new Nottingham College City Hub and the new public spaces under development on Sussex Street, Carrington Street and Collin Street.
One of the key themes that emerged in the City Council’s engagement exercise into the possible future use of the site is green, natural and open spaces.

There was also a large swell of support for a reflection of Nottingham’s history and heritage and mixed developments, including retail, hospitality, leisure and offices. There was a desire for the area to be safe and family friendly and become an attractive gateway to the city from the south, with a preference for independent shops over large chains. A large number of imaginative plans for the site were also submitted.

Also among the 11,000 comments received were calls to make better use of the network of caves in the area. The Greater Broadmarsh Advisory Group is keen to explore this and agreed to work with a range of partners including the University of Nottingham and Nottingham City Council, to build on previous work to develop understanding of the caves’ history and archaeology. The aim is to make better use of them as high-quality visitor experiences and educational resources, helping to contribute towards positioning Nottingham as an international destination.

Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “The Big Conversation was a great opportunity for us to see what our residents wanted to happen in such an important area for the city and I am grateful for the wealth of submissions we received as part of this. The number and variety of responses clearly shows, if we ever doubted it, how strongly local people feel about this site and that we should grasp this unexpected opportunity.

“We’ve made no decisions on the future of the Broadmarsh Centre site, and the work the Greater Broadmarsh Advisory Group will undertake will be invaluable in using the submissions from the Big Conversation and their collective expertise to create something special for Nottingham for generations to come. We have said all along we want to work with partners to create something new on this important site and the submissions from our residents and the Advisory Group are our first steps towards that.”

Chair of the Greater Broadmarsh Advisory Group, Greg Nugent, said: “The enthusiasm and energy during the first meeting of the Greater Broad Marsh Advisory Group reinforces the opportunity to create something stunning that helps to transform our city. The Big Conversation has brought forward many wonderful thoughts and ideas. One recurring theme has been how do we make the most of Nottingham’s cave network and so we want to use this moment to ask the public and businesses to work with us in unearthing the true extent and potential of the incredible world that lies beneath the streets of the city.”

Councillor Angharad Roberts, Councillor for Castle Ward which includes the Broad Marsh area, said: “Firstly I want to thank everyone who took the time to provide us with their ideas, thoughts and concepts for the Broadmarsh Centre site. This was the beginning of our new journey to create a fantastic area to stitch the city centre back together and provide a warm welcome to visitors to Nottingham.

“I am excited to be involved in the work of Greater Broadmarsh Advisory Group, and to be looking further at how we can answer some of the questions the Big Conversation raised.”

The masterplan will complement current developments at Broadmarsh Car Park, Bus Station, new Central Library, new Nottingham College City Hub and Nottingham Castle and the new public spaces under development on Sussex Street, Carrington Street and Collin Street. The demolition of the western section of the centre is due to begin soon.

A summary report on feedback received through the Big Conversation is available here: