Developer outlines vision for Broadmarsh site

Sean Akins

A prominent Nottingham developer has outlined a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for Nottingham to redevelop the Broadmarsh shopping centre site.

With the failed intu plans leaving the site in the centre of the city pretty much a mothballed building site, Sean Akins of Bildurn says successfully delivering such a large scale, regenerative place-making scheme will be a “huge challenge”, which will require “great leadership, vision, the right delivery skills and deep pockets”.

Akins, whose Bildurn company has been responsible for some of the best redevelopment schemes in the city, told “This has to been seen as a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime development opportunity to reposition the city centre and Nottingham over the next 10 – 15 years. Which other city has such a large development opportunity so well located and in one controlling ownership?”

Akins pointed to success stories in other cities, such as Brindley Place and Kings Cross, which he says have been built on “winning partnerships” with “specialist place-making development partners”.

He added: “The City Council will need to figure out how to attract these partners, how to behave in a partnership and figure out what support they need to succeed.”

A “compelling vision” has to go beyond the existing mall, anticipate shrinking retail and leisure demand, and encompass property up Lister Gate up to Middle Pavement; and addressing the nearby dilapidated NCP carpark, said Akins.

He continued: “It has to major on great street scene and public space – which will set the scene for decades – and get this right at the outset.

“Nottingham’s challenge will be that much greater given the lower levels of indigenous demand and lower rental and value base compared to ‘premiership’ cities such as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

“Fragmenting the monolith into a number of buildings has to be right way to go. It will allow a phased delivery approach and more diverse mix of uses. Phasing will mean that incremental starts can be made where demand can be met – rather than having to wait for massive deals to click – to build confidence and pump prime the scheme. It will also allow for shovel-ready lots to snag some of the windfall inward investment requirements that Nottingham continues to miss due to lack of availability in the office sector. The location should be in pole position to capture Government estate consolidations.”

Akins’ vision comes after the Official Receiver handed control of the site to Nottingham City Council following the collapse of intu into administration.

Earlier this week, the leader of the council, David Mellen, called the decision “hugely significant”.

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