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Broadmarsh Big Conversation Results See Loud Calls For Nature and Heritage

8 April 21 words: Adam Pickering

Since covid struck and knocked Intu’s shopping centre plans for six, the future of Broadmarsh has become a hot topic in Nottingham. Today marked a step forward in the citywide discussion, as the key findings of Nottingham City Council’s Big Conversation were released...

Image of Broadmarsh submitted by Nottinghamshire Wildlife Tust and Influence Landscape Architects

The Broadmarsh Big Conversation has quickly become the largest consultation ever conducted by Nottingham City Council. From the near 12,000-strong petition to cancel the Broadmarsh development and create a green open space for Nottingham, to the feedback at Nottingham Climate Assembly’s virtual community meeting on reimagining Broadmarsh at Green Hustle festival, it was becoming clear that Nottingham City Council were under pressure to take a new direction. They soon launched their Big Conversation consultation, which duly ended up attracting the largest response they have ever received to such a project.

Over 3,000 individual submissions and 11,000 comments were received from local residents, businesses charities, campaign groups, schools, colleges and architects. Some of the extensive green responses that were submitted were also shared publicly to much excitement, notably from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, the local Liberal Democrats and Green Party, and a collective of independent architects and environmentalists known as the Green Quarter, whose own lively Facebook group is nearing 6,000 members strong. 

Environmentalists were encouraged by the findings, as one of the key themes to emerge from was that people are keen to see more green, natural and open space. Paul Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust commented to LeftLion that “Over 14,000 people backed our vision for a new natural greenspace and it is reassuring to see this demand reflected in the Big Conversation findings. Nottingham City Council must now show real green ambition by backing a transformational proposal which sets the tone for future development. Alongside other green groups we wish see a nature first approach which can mitigate climate change impacts and deliver accessible natural greenspace. Plans must also underpin the City’s 2028 carbon neutral pledge by being truly sustainable."

It also seems that lovers of history and culture managed to make their voices heard loud and clear, with calls for an emphasis on celebrating the city’s rich heritage including ideas such as the restoration and development of our cave network. Many respondents were keen to see a mixed development that addresses local housing needs, with space for smaller shops and businesses, as well as new leisure opportunities.

Nottingham City Council Leader, Councillor David Mellen, said: “The Big Conversation we have undertaken about the Broadmarsh site has really captured people’s imagination. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reimagine a significant space right in the heart of one of the country’s Core Cities and build a new post-Covid vision for urban areas that is people-centred and green but also leads to jobs and housing, improving quality of life… Nottingham aims to be the first carbon-neutral city in the UK. We’d want to see this ambition reflected in the future for Broadmarsh in some way.”

No decisions are being made on the Broadmarsh developments future yet, but Nottingham City Council will be working on the new plans along with the Greater Broadmarsh Advisory Group with initial plans expected later in 2021. The group, set up specifically for this task, is independently Chaired by Greg Nugent of The Nottingham Project, a former director of the London 2012 Olympics. It features a local, multidisciplinary advisory group, as well as national experts such as Sir Tim Smit of the Eden Project, and renowned urban designer Kathryn Frith.

D
emolition work on the Broadmarsh site is now due to resume this month. Greg Nugent commented on this news that “Nottingham has a huge opportunity to use the Greater Broadmarsh space to create something that transforms the city and creates a legacy for generations to come. It also has the chance to build a new idea for the way cities thrive again. This is the first of many exciting milestones in the redevelopment of the entire site.”

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