Replacing shopping centres

Replacing shopping centres

In February we reported on suggestions to convert shopping centres into green spaces in Stockton on Tees and Nottingham ( turning shopping centres into parkland ). This week plans in Nottingham have received national attention. So this seems like a good time to report back on both of these suggestions and some others.

Nottingham Broad Marsh

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The Nottingham Broad Marsh shopping centre was an ugly barrier between the city centre and railway station, 20 acres in size. It’s development obliterated ancient street patterns and historic areas. The plan had been to demolish and rebuild it, until Intu, the City Councils partner in the project, went into administration. It left a partly demolished monstrosity.

The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust proposed that the whole area be turned into parkland and wildlife areas. It seemed that Nottingham might have an asset that would be the UK equivalent to New York’s Central Park. It sounded like a great idea.

When the Working Group that was formed reported back, it caused surprise. It proposes a  significant area of green open space, but also wants to keep much of the structure of the once hated Broadmarsh Centre building, especially the pillars which could form a series of pergola’s for greenery.

My immediate reaction was disappointment, and the local Greens and Liberal Democrats said that they were opposed to the scheme. But after looking at the proposals, it seems like a good idea! It will expose views of Nottingham Castle from the area, and open up access to Nottingham’s ancient caves. Keen though I am on parkland, I’m not so keen on sitting on a park bench when it’s raining! Keeping parts of the structure of the shopping centre will provide spaces for socialising and the concept will be unique to the city.

The outskirts of the site will be used for 750 new homes, offices, shops and a hotel.

Passengers arriving in Nottingham from the east by rail may be shocked to see 36 acres of derelict, former industrial land, to the north of the railway. A developer is hoping to transform the area into open spaces, homes, shops, offices and – of course – a hotel. It’s less than one mile from Broad Marsh. The future of this land has been a problem for over 30 years, and it may take many years to develop.

Both schemes have been turned down for Government grants.

Castlegate Shopping Centre, Stockton on Tees

Stockton Council’s Planning Committee agreed in August that the Castlegate Shopping Centre (which describes itself as “the Heart of Stockton”) is to be demolished. So too will the former Swallow Hotel and a green space created in an area described as three times the size of Trafalgar Square.

This will open up the area between the High Street and the river Tees, enabling the river to become a focal point of the town. Businesses in the centre will be offered space in the Wellington Square shopping centre.

Part of the site will be developed as Council offices, a library, a leisure centre and a registry office.

A £16m grant has been offered from the High Streets Fund. Demolition will start in the new year, though it could be 2025 before the whole scheme is complete.

Other schemes

Shrewsbury’s bid to the Levelling Up Fund was turned down. The Council wants to demolish the Riverside Shopping Centre. The redevelopment would include a riverside promenade as well as homes, offices, shops and – of course – a hotel. The Council can re-apply in the spring.

In Maidenhead the Nicholson Quarter claims to be the first major redevelopment of a shopping centre. There will be a new public square, 660 homes, new shops, offices and a multi storey car park.

The demise of shopping centres reflects the reduction in the amount of shopping space needed, in part because of the increase in online shopping. It also comes as an increase in home working is a growing trend. Yet new shops and offices are part of most redevelopment schemes!

Picture: Broad Marsh

Nottingham Broadmarsh proposal from the Nottingham City Council YouTube page – click here


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