Artistic Impression of the development

Heatherwick vision to reimagine City Centre and old shopping centre backed by Nottingham City Council

Nottingham’s independent Greater Broad Marsh Advisory Group, established by Nottingham City Council in March 2021, has today published its Vision and recommendations for one of the most significant City Centre development sites in the UK and the “once in many generations” opportunity for Nottingham to lead the way in city centre regeneration following the impacts of Covid-19 and online retailing. 

The unique 20-acre site includes the former, part demolished Broadmarsh shopping centre which was handed back to Nottingham City Council when Intu went into administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nottingham City Council set up an independent Advisory Group to build on the Council’s successful ‘Big Conversation’ consultation to reimagine the derelict Broadmarsh shopping centre. Heatherwick Studio, led by the world-renowned and highly-acclaimed British designer Thomas Heatherwick, and Stories, a leading socially responsible development company, were commissioned to work with the Advisory Group on the creative vision for the City Centre site and advise on how Nottingham can deliver the project. 

The Advisory Group believes the new Vision published today gives Nottingham a “once in many generations” opportunity given the size, scale and position of the site and would offer social and economic opportunity to Nottingham on an unprecedented and historic scale.  The development, which the Advisory Group thinks will take ten years to fully deliver, will generate 3,000 jobs in the build and 3,000 new jobs once development is complete and create more than 750 new homes and over 400,000 sq ft of high-end business and office space. 

The key elements of the Vision:

  • Rebuilding The Lost Connections. The vision aims to reinstate many of Nottingham’s lost street connections and rebuild them for the future of the City, reconnecting the whole of the centre, both physically and with its history. 
  • A New Green Heart. At the heart of the Vision is the creation of a new ‘Green Heart’ for the City Centre. This wildlife-rich green space, which will permeate the whole site and weave in and out of the Frame, will aim to create a beautiful, tranquil core to the City. It will be set within 3.5 hectares of common ground –  high quality public realm that permeates the zones across the 20 acre site.
  • Living by the Nottingham Castle. On the west side of the site, looking up at Nottingham Castle and just yards from the Robin Hood statue, the Vision creates over 750 new homes. Located within walking distance of the train station, these would be prime location homes in the heart of the City.
  • Work by the New Green Heart. To create an engine room for the City’s growth aspirations, the Vision includes new commercial and mixed use buildings, creating high end business and office space, including conference space, and high quality ground floor retail. The buildings will have the capacity to accommodate over 3,000 jobs.
  • The retention of  ‘The Frame’. The creative response from Heatherwick Studio, and endorsed by the Advisory Group, is to keep some of the structural frame of the Broadmarsh shopping centre and give it new life and meaning. Inside the Frame, the Vision creates a space like no other, totally unique to the City. Under the key themes of play, performance and food, it could provide a place with a diverse range of uses that brings people together.
  • Sleep Above The Caves in a new Art Hotel. The Vision proposes to rejuvenate Nottingham’s unique Cave network creating a new entrance and transforming the existing Severns House into a hotel, providing the opportunity for tourists to sleep right above the caves and forming part of a new heritage and culture trail through the City centre. 

A press pack with new images and GCI as well as a summary of the project with facts and timelines here.

The Advisory Group has also given advice on the delivery of the Vision over the next decade. Their recommendations include:

  • Nottingham City Council should act as the custodians of the site, pursuing a long-term leadership role and working with public and private sector partners to help deliver the Vision.
  • Nottingham City Council advised to establish a delivery ‘vehicle’ with the responsibility and skills to attract public and private investment. The new body, provisionally called ‘The Broad Marsh Development Partnership’, should have the sole responsibility and accountability for the critical delivery functions
  • New body advised to place early emphasis on ‘meanwhile use’ and getting innovative local organisations to be the early adopters of the site, opening parts of the site quickly, building momentum and stimulating interest. 
  • The Advisory Group believes the next stage of the project, lasting 2-3 years, will require around £5-6million of investment, and that the priority should be demolition, masterplanning, legal work on title, and preparation to take the Vision to the private and public sector markets.  
  • The Advisory Group advises that the return on investment would be “unprecedented in the City’s history”. A physical development worth in the region of £500 million, and the creation of jobs, new homes, new commercial space, increased tourism and hotel spend, business relocation and increased footfall in the City.

Nottingham City Council has backed the Vision and asked the Advisory Group to continue its work and advise on the formal setting up of the delivery partnership, in March. 

Thomas Heatherwick said: The challenge of what to do with the former Broadmarsh shopping centre has been a chance to think about the failure of our city centres. They should be about bringing people together, not just about retail. Rather than demolish the structure, we are proposing to keep the frame and breathe new life into it, creating a place that can hold the diversity and vibrancy that is so lacking from many city centres. The aim is to bridge between generations, communities, and cultures so that the new Broad Marsh can reflect the true diversity of the city.

“In the fog of Covid-19, Nottingham has seized the opportunity to create a new blueprint for the future of City centres.”

Independent Chair of the Greater Broad Marsh Advisory Group, Greg Nugent said: “Out of the adversity of the collapse of Intu comes a chance for Nottingham to build a new kind of City Centre. Thomas Heatherwick’s vision creates a blueprint for a City that wants to reinvent itself, ready for life beyond Covid-19.”

David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, said: “I would like to thank the Advisory Board, Heatherwick Studio and the team at Stories for their creativity, hard work and ambition. When Heatherwick Studio was commissioned to create a new vision for Broad Marsh, there were some key things I was keen for it to include. I think Thomas and his team have delivered on all of them. They have clearly listened to the feedback from the Big Conversation and captured the wide range of views and ideas put forward in what was the Council’s biggest engagement exercise to date. They have used the extensive footprint of Broad Marsh to ensure the Vision provides something for everyone.

“It includes a substantial green space via a ‘green heart’ at the centre of the vision. It will lead to over 750 homes and 6,000 jobs for local people. By proposing to make some use of the existing frame, reducing the waste and carbon emissions from new construction, it is sustainable, something which is very important for the city’s ambition to be the UK’s first carbon-neutral city by 2028. And it respects and promotes the city’s rich heritage by opening up views to the Castle, enhancing the Caves, one of the city’s hidden gems, and re-establishing old street patterns.

“Now we will begin the important work necessary to test the new Vision and our ability to realise it. We have said all along that this isn’t something the Council can or would want to do on its own. We will continue to work with colleagues on the Advisory Group to develop a Masterplan for the space and secure the investment needed from public and private sector partners. This will take time to get right but people will see major changes soon with the opening up of the area between Collin Street through to Lister Gate as part of the creation of the ‘Green Heart’.”

Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South, said: “Nottingham has a fantastic opportunity to lead the way in rethinking who and what our city centres are for. This plan draws on the area’s heritage and historic street layout but reimagines the space for a green and sustainable future. I hope my constituents are as excited as I am about this vision for the Broad Marsh.”

The ‘Green Heart’ at the centre of the site could create 1 hectare of new green space, set within 3.4 hectares of common ground across the whole site.  Paul Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust commented: “Almost exactly a year ago, the Wildlife Trust put forward a bold idea of the Broadmarsh reimagined as wildlife-rich greenspace to support nature’s recovery and enable people living and working in the city centre to connect with nature on their doorstep. Given the public support for our ideas we’re pleased to have had the opportunity to feed into the creative process to illustrate how a nature first approach could underpin the City’s carbon neutral ambitions and address social inclusion.

“We are delighted that wildlife-rich greenspace is integral to the Advisory Group’s vision for transforming the site and as a catalyst for a more sustainable approach for regenerating our city. As we face up to the ecological and climate crises the prospect of wildlife habitat and greenspaces being woven across a much wider footprint than the former shopping centre itself is particularly exciting and we would welcome the opportunity to work with Nottingham City Council on the next phase to ensure the green vision is delivered.” 

Members of the Advisory Group who have given their time, expertise and insight for free praised the process and outlined their excitement for what the Vision could achieve for Nottingham.

Sir Tim Smit, Co-Founder of the Eden Project and member of the Advisory Group said: “The Broad Marsh Vision represents the fruit of a hugely aspirational and exciting process which exhibited possibly the best leadership I have ever come across in civic conversation. It was respectful, inclusive and encouraged the participants to take responsibility for creating the climate in which something could be dreamed and that future generations would be proud of. From the collegiate conversations to the narrative development of Stories to the bravura performance of the Heatherwick Studios, the whole thing sent a shiver up my spine.

I think this is some of the best work I have seen in many years from a designer who ranks among the very best in the world. His personal excitement in the possibilities for Nottingham shone through and, hand on heart, I am convinced that were we to be able to make real the magic expressed here, Nottingham would have a centre that will ground the lightning of the cultural, tech and scientific ferment that is waiting for a stage. This is that stage and I offer my utmost admiration to the team that have got us here and the spirit of the citizens of Nottingham for daring to dream while organising to deliver.”

Natalie Gasson-McKinley, Development Manager, Federation of Small Businesses said: “It has been a privilege to represent the voice of business as part of the Broad Marsh Advisory Group. Small and growing businesses are a key part of city centre tapestry and will play a pivotal role in the recovery of Nottingham and cities across the globe.

“Strengthening the heart of Nottingham’s city centre is a significant opportunity to support local businesses, attract inward investment, secure jobs and prepare now for future economic recovery. The plans for the Broad Marsh include a Frame that rethinks the design of domestic, commercial and public spaces, to promote a cohesive sense of community that binds the people of Nottingham and businesses of all sizes together. Although in its early conceptual stages, the Frame presents a compelling offer to interconnect economic, cultural and social prosperity.”

Councillor Angharad Roberts said: “This is a really exciting bold new vision for the Broad Marsh. I believe it will stitch this part of the city centre back together. At its heart are the things which the people of Nottingham told us they wanted to see on this site in the Big Conversation – green space and an environmentally-friendly approach; a flagship location for the carbon neutral city we aim to be by 2028; a celebration of our city’s heritage, restoring old street patterns and reconnecting with the history of Broad Marsh; and mixed use development including homes, jobs, open public space and quality retail, hospitality and leisure facilities.

“I hope it’ll become a place which feels like home for local residents as well as being a welcoming, inclusive and exciting venue for visitors to Nottingham. It’s a Vision for the future which I hope the people of Nottingham will be proud of for decades to come.”

The Vision has also been welcomed by key groups and individuals from around the City.

Vicky McClure, Nottingham-based actor and founder of BYO Films, and a member of the Advisory Group, said: “This is a visionary and beautiful solution for our City. Nottingham leading the way once again and showing how cities can grow and adapt sustainably and creatively.  I have been lucky to speak to Thomas Heatherwick and the teams involved through the design process and have been blown away by their ideas and depth of thinking. Huge credit to Heatherwick Studios, Stories, Greg Nugent and the rest of the Advisory Group for their dedication to our City.” 

Nelson Blackley, Nottingham-based Independent Retail Analyst, welcomed the new approach for the City centre site: “I believe this mixed-use, zoned and modular vision for the future Broad Marsh not only reflects the priorities of investors, local businesses and communities, but also respects the unique heritage and location of the site, as well as its environmental impact and legacy.”

Victoria Reeves, Chief Executive of the National Justice Museum, who also operate the Caves experience in Nottingham, welcomed the community focus of the plans: “The National Justice Museum applauds this stunning vision for the Broad Marsh site and wholeheartedly supports its ethos in the bringing together of communities and the sharing of culture  which lies at its heart. We are wholly committed to this project. It aligns closely with the work we do as an Arts Council National Portfolio organisation, reaching out to communities and partners to celebrate the culture of our outstanding city.  We are energised and excited about contributing to this in the remarkable setting the vision proposes.”

Glenn Crocker, Executive Director for BioCity Nottingham said: “This is an ingenious, radical and game-changing proposal for the Broadmarsh site. Completely appropriate for an ingenious, radical and game-changing city.”

Posted on 09 December 2021

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