Nottingham City Council has secured £12.53 million from the Future High Streets Fund to drastically improve the area around Angel Row and Maid Marian Way.

The grant money, awarded through a competitive process, will be used to create a much needed new creative hub in the city and improve transport and pedestrian routes in this part of the city centre.

Nottingham’s successful bid means the area around Angel Row and Maid Marian Way will be transformed. The historic frontage of the current Central Library on Angel Row will be protected and handed back to the council to be fitted out as a 1,535 sqm space. This will become the Angel Row Creative Co-operative, providing exhibition and gallery space, studios, workshops, experiential technology, offices, hot desks and a digital resource library for the city’s burgeoning creative industry.

This dovetails with the council’s plan to open a new Central Library to the South of the city centre, and the sale of the Central Library building to a developer is being finalised. They will hand the space for the Angel Row Creative Co-operative to the City Council.

On Maid Marian Way, new traffic layouts will enhance pedestrian routes from Derby Road to cultural destinations such as Nottingham Playhouse, the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall and Nottingham Castle, as well as improve public transport, the city centre cycling network and the pedestrian area of Chapel Bar. These will take place at the junction of Mount Street and Maid Marian Way, as well as the junction of Upper Parliament Street and Derby Road.

By reimagining a key section of the city centre during the Covid-19 pandemic, the City Council devised a plan which moves away from retail but remains a welcoming entrance for residents, visitors and workers and meets the need for quality, public facing and high profile creative space in Nottingham. Addressing this gap is particularly important to retain and support Nottingham’s creative graduates and incubate their talent.

The proposals support a number of strategies to improve Nottingham city centre, including the City Centre Strategy, Heritage Strategy, Graduate Retention Strategy, Growth Plan and the city’s 2028 Carbon Neutral Plan.

Councillor Rebecca Langton, Portfolio Holder for Skills, Growth and Economic Development, said: “We’re pleased to have secured this funding, which is a vote of confidence in Nottingham’s plans to re-think our city centre post-Covid. Over £12m will help us to preserve our heritage buildings, make it easier to get around the city centre and improve the street environment as we do.

“This funding will help us work towards our City Centre strategy and other important plans and projects that are already underway. These plans include retaining more of our talented graduates, promoting creative industries for further job growth, as well as having more people living in, working in and visiting the city centre.”

Lorraine Baggs, Head of Investment at Marketing NG, said: “The plans to reimagine Angel Row and establish the Angel Row Creative Co-operative are hugely welcome for Nottingham, and it’s pleasing to see the City Council has taken the post-Covid high street into account with future flexible working in mind. Companies will need to provide a reason to tempt people away from working at home and offer spaces where people can collaborate, work flexibly and engage together and this could serve as a model that will meet those needs while harnessing the city’s strong creative industries economy.

“The idea of a workplace of the times and a forward thinking, progressive creative space behind a historic frontage will add a unique element to Nottingham’s city centre, and the improvement of pedestrian routes to our cultural and tourist attractions will only serve to boost our visitor economy.”

Lucy Stanford, manager of Nottingham Business Improvement District (BID) commented: “An investment of this size is great news for the city and an important element in re-imagining the city centre post-Covid.

“Angel Row is a well-used gateway into the city centre for office workers and is often the first part of the city that visitors to Nottingham get to see when arriving by public transport, so it will be great to see the area receiving some much-needed care and attention.”

The funding, awarded by the Ministry for Communities, Housing and Local Government, is part of a national £830 million programme to help transform high streets into vibrant hubs for future generations and to protect and create thousands of jobs.