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Nottingham Broad Marsh vision hailed as 'extraordinary' as new plans unveiled for the first time


Nottingham Broad Marsh vision hailed as 'extraordinary' as new plans unveiled for the first time

Construction & Build

A new vision for Nottingham's Greater Broad Marsh site will seek to bring back to life the city's ancient network of streets with a baby oak tree from Sherwood Forest in the centre, it can be revealed.

Following the demise of shopping centre giant intu in 2020, the pandemic hammering the final nail into its coffin, the former Broadmarsh Centre has stood as nothing more than a half-demolished shell.

It serves a permanent reminder of a failed vision of the past, with high street retail decimated in recent years.

The site was handed back to Nottingham City Council which immediately appointed an advisory group and held a consultation which garnered more than 3,000 responses from people expressing their views on what should come next.

It was independently chaired by Greg Nugent of The Nottingham Project and the panel includes key people from the city including Paul Seddon of Nottingham City Council, Nick Ebbs of Nottingham Growth Board, Louise Brennan of Historic England and Mark Chivers of Boots.

Sir Tim Smit of the Eden Project, Jerome Frost of ARUP UK and urban designer Kathryn Frith were some of the national experts who joined the group.

Now, after world-renown designer Thomas Heatherwick was hired back in July to help bring the vision to life, a snippet of what is to come has been unveiled.

Mr Nugent, a former director of the 2012 London Olympics, told Nottinghamshire Live: "This is easily the most extraordinary thing I have ever worked on.

"The Broad Marsh used to be a much more orchestrated and organised street space and it used to work quite well at north, south, east, west, very well, in fact - but what happened is the Broadmarsh [Centre] itself killed a lot of the way the city worked.

"We are proposing bringing back so many of the streets and routes around the city because actually they used to work really well. This is why New York and even Glasgow work, the streets connect with each other. It is a brilliant opportunity to reconnect the city."

The ancient street layout will be complimented by a "green heart", a highly-requested feature during the public consultation.

At the centre of this green heart will grow a baby oak and the re-wilding of this area will "permeate" the entire site.

"This has already begun to happen," Mr Nugent says.

"The east side of the site is already demolished.

"The good news is the city already has the budget for the green heart because it is part of the D2N2 money to do with demolition.

"We want to take, ideally, an acorn from Sherwood Forest, ideally the Major Oak, and plant it beautifully in the middle of the city and we want to be known as a young city, a vibrant city, and this is perfectly symbolic of the middle of this.

"There will be a beautiful panoramic space in the middle of the city."

Other aspects of the vision, including new mixed-use office space and housing with views of Nottingham Castle, can also proceed sooner rather than later due to the interest from the private sector in such projects.

Thomas Heatherwick recently told Nottinghamshire Live he had hoped to retain and utilise some of the former Broadmarsh Centre structure, and Mr Nugent believes the vision the designer helped create is one of his "finest hours."

Utilising the intriguing network of caves beneath the former Broadmarsh Centre could help the city potentially "become a world heritage site" in the future, Mr Nugent argues.

"What chains did is pushed out the spirit of the city in effect, all cities ended up becoming quite similar, if you go to Nottingham or Sheffield or Glasgow or Edinburgh or Dundee most of those cities have the same shops and the character of those cities and some of the characters were pushed out of town," he said.

"We think it will become a blueprint for all cities."

It has been proposed the green heart will be slightly larger in size than Old Market Square.

One of the major challenges facing the new vision and its potential to become a reality is the finances.

Nottingham City Council is very much cash-strapped and is currently under watch from the Government. However those on the independently-chaired advisory board believe the vision will have little trouble in attracting investors.

A Broad Marsh Development Partnership will now help turn the vision into a master-plan, which will in turn be used to help sell the plans sell to both the public and private sectors.

Written by Joseph Locker - Nottinghamshire Live