Broadmarsh under construction.
Plans to replace the Broadmarsh shopping centre are still underway. Credit: Nottingham City Council.

Earlier this year an image of a reimagined Broadmarsh circulated online. Broadmarsh was visualised as a rewilded green space – a public park full of biodiversity.

After Intu went into administration, the Broadmarsh site was handed back to the council. As part of a conversation that Nottingham City Council had with the public, they looked to gain feedback about what the public wanted in replace of the demolished Broadmarsh shopping centre.

The green space plans were proposed by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and other groups campaigned to add greenery to the area, including Green Partnership, artist Wolfgang Buttress and an alliance between the Green Party and Liberal Democrats.

Fergus Slade, 34, Nottingham’s City Council communications and marketing manager in growth and city development, discussed the proposals. He says, “Through the 3000 responses we had throughout the conversation, there was a great desire for green space and no appetite for rebuilding a shopping centre.” He adds, lockdown restrictions gave people a chance to get out and enjoy their neighbourhoods and parks – exploring their local areas.

The council have appointed an external Broadmarsh advisory group to plan exactly how Broadmarsh will look. Led by Greg Nugent, one of the directors of the 2012 London Olympics. The group also includes local, national and international figures – including Tim Smit, who led the Eden Project and Vicky McClure, famous actress and advocate for Nottingham.

Fergus explained that the desire from the public was: “Green space, and something else” – which could include a space for small, independent retail, offices or leisure.

“I would urge caution that it might not be a wide green space. Ultimately, you’ve got to think of the size and footprint of the site. You’re not finding many places in the world taking a prime piece of real estate and essentially giving it away for free.”

Fergus added that the council are being mindful of the economic benefits and wider needs of the city. Due to its proximity to the train and bus stations, there is a public safety concern for people walking through a park at night.

“The hope is that there will be a master plan proposal released over the summer, but it will be a little while before the site is cleared. Demolition of the Western part will begin later this year, through summer or autumn,” he said.

The first demolition phase is being funded by local enterprise partnership D2N2 and the government initiative Transforming Cities is also donating around £12m to the project.

“When it comes to redevelopment, we’ll look to join with private partners. We have good contacts with private developers, and it’s the sort of site I will be expecting to take to international trade fairs,” Fergus added.

Nottingham City Council have pledged to make Nottingham a carbon neutral city by 2028. Work has already begun on this, such as the solar farm above the Broadmarsh car park and the newly added electric charging points.

“Sustainability has to be the cornerstone of what we’re doing at the council,” Fergus said. “If we are going to become an environmentally conscious and sustainable city, we have to be really conscious of all building work that we do.”

But complications in land development make it difficult to develop the Broadmarsh site as an entirely green space.

“It’s built into a cliff face in some respects. The loading dock on top is still used by a couple shops in the area. There’s also a fire escape for a couple of the businesses round the back,” he added. “We’ve got the caves and Victorian and Medieval artifacts down there. All of which we must be respectful of.”

“The Broadmarsh advisory group haven’t made their final proposal yet but they might go for something quite diverse.”