A new vision for the Broad Marsh

A new vision for the redevelopment of the former, part demolished, Broadmarsh shopping centre and surrounding land has been revealed - said to be a “once in many generations” opportunity for Nottingham to lead the way in city centre regeneration following the impacts of Covid-19 and online retailing.

Broad Marsh

Nottingham City Council set up an independent Advisory Group to build on its ‘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 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 university's Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts and Chair of our Civic & Regional Committee, Jeremy Gregory, sits on the Advisory Group and gives his insight into the significance of the project:

As Chair of the University’s Civic & Regional Committee, I have had the huge pleasure of representing the university on the Greater Broad Marsh Advisory Group. Many alumni will no doubt remember the Broadmarsh shopping centre, bus station, and car park, which was built in the early 1970s, and during its construction many historically important caves and cellars were rediscovered and then preserved by residents and archaeologists.

‘Broadmarsh’, later managed by Intu (the real estate development company specialising in shopping centres) was in the process of a major redevelopment from 2018, entailing the closure of the entire complex, when Intu went into administration in the summer of 2020 in England’s first period of Covid-19 lockdown.

The Greater Broad Marsh Advisory Group was established to come up with a vision for the site, which is one of the largest city centre redevelopment opportunities in Europe. It has been fascinating working with colleagues from across the city, and with designers from outside Nottingham (such as Sir Tim Smit, from the Eden Project).

The Heatherwick Studio was commissioned, first to undertake a consultation with the broader Nottingham community to understand what ‘Nottingham’ meant to its residents, and the values they held, and then to come up with a design vision for the site.

Broadmarsh vs Broad Marsh?

Just to clear up any confusion - the original name for the area is Broad Marsh, as it was historically boggy land. When the shopping centre was built in the 1970s it was named as The Broadmarsh Centre. The redevelopment is now harking back to its traditional roots, hence Broad Marsh!

I was very impressed by the amount of research Heatherwick’s undertook to unveil the deep history of the area, and its medieval street pattern.

The resulting ‘vision’ makes much of green spaces, as if to bring Sherwood Forest into the city centre, and imaginatively uses the abandoned concrete frame of the shopping centre as part of the structure of the imagined new-build, as well as making the most of the heritage of Nottingham’s caves (with a projected hotel where residents can ‘sleep above the caves’).

The whole is envisaged as a multi-use site where people can work, eat, rest, and play. Next steps will be to see what parts of this vision are feasible and how it can be funded.

I’m also delighted that Dr Chris King (Classics & Archaeology) has been awarded external funding for a project titled ‘City of Caves: regenerating the heart of Nottingham through hidden heritage’ to work on knowledge exchange and place-making with the City Council and key stakeholders on the caves and heritage of the Broadmarsh redevelopment zone.

All this, together with the acquisition of the Castle Meadow Campus, demonstrates the university’s exciting work with the city and the local community which will help transform the city centre over the next decade.

Professor Jeremy Gregory, Pro-Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts and Chair of the Civic & Regional Committee