A retail expert is concerned waiting a decade for the former Broadmarsh shopping centre to be developed could have serious implications for Nottingham.
Nelson Blackley, a retail analyst who has worked at Nottingham Trent University Business School, is worried about the length of time set for development on the half-demolished site.
This week, an advice panel has been announced, which is tasked with helping to build a vision that will transform more than 20 acres of land in the heart of Nottingham.
Independently chaired by Greg Nugent, of The Nottingham Project, a former director of London 2012, the panel will feature key people from the city.
The panel is being asked to recommend two crucial aspects for the future of the site – a creative vision for the space as well as a recommendation on how Nottingham can deliver the project financially over the next decade.
The news comes as a number of businesses around the Broadmarsh are set to close including WH Smith and River Island in Lister Gate.
Businesses have also suffered on one of Nottingham’s oldest shopping streets – Bridlesmith Gate – after the Middle Pavement entrance of Broadmarsh was shut off.
Shops said this was an important thoroughfare and affected trade.
Mr Blackley told Nottinghamshire Live: “The half demolished and closed Broadmarsh is having a huge and detrimental impact on footfall and retail trade and visual appearance of the south side of the city.
“That would have happened whether Covid struck or not.
“I think the long and painful demise of the Broadmarsh can be tracked back for years.
“Once the development started it was good news but the bus station closed and the car park closed and had an adverse impact.
“As demolition continued, it became a retail desert with no excitement and atmosphere and no reason for shoppers to visit.
“It is no surprise that some of the retailers on adjacent streets have either closed or moved. It is a huge prime site and I think the significant thing is it gives us an opportunity.
“There is local demand for some green space, for it to provide leisure and recreational amenities and community facilities.
“Some limited retail and food and drink would be good or a market place of sorts but not national brands.”
A number of suggestions and designs were put forward since Nottingham City Council, which owns the site, opened up a consultation for local people and organisations to submit their ideas.
Mr Blackley added: “We all know the city council, who own the site, have severe financial problems so the final plan when agreed, it is inevitable in my mind that it will have to be something that not only provides rental income to them and landowners but an acceptable return to private investors that will need to be involved.
“The council clearly can’t afford to fund the development so has limited influence in the final shape of the site. It may mean some of the development options such as city centre apartments, office space, even a hotel might emerge.
“The council have announced an advisory group with a wide range of experts in development and design and architecture and urban planning. That is an interesting move.
“My understanding is the remit of this is a creative vision will be published this coming summer but on how it can deliver this project over the next decade.
“It is slightly worrying – the timescale – we could be talking up to a decade for this huge redevelopment to be finally completed.
“My concern would be what will happen for the surrounding area and surrounding shops in particular over that lengthy period.”
City Council Leader, Cllr David Mellen, said: “Timescales for development will depend on the final proposals. We have asked the Advisory Group to recommend ideas for how the site can be used to benefit local people before a long term vision for the site is developed and implemented.
“The council is not standing still when it comes to redeveloping the site and the area – we have secured, subject to business case confirmation, a grant from D2N2, the Local Economic Partnership, to demolish a large section of the Broadmarsh centre and to create a more attractive through route to Nottingham city centre, with a final decision on this funding due in March. ”