Council counts the £15m cost of ‘sterilised’ city centre redevelopment project

How the Vita scheme would've looked

Cash-strapped Nottingham City Council has lost out on £15m after it lost an appeal to review the listed status on two prime city centre buildings.

According to documents seen by, that was the value of both the Guildhall site and the adjoining former Police and Fire Station in Nottingham. The major site was dramatically granted Grade II listed status just days before the council’s planning committee was due to sit and vote on a scheme to turn the latter into a mixed-use scheme that would include 1,000 student flats owned by Vita, a gym, a dance studio, co-study spaces, a cinema and a games room, as well as a public facing Market Food Hall with capacity for around 500 diners.

Meanwhile, also understands that plans for a hotel in the adjoining Guildhall start had been scrapped.

Letters from Nottingham Trent University and planning consultancy Turley, acquired under a Freedom of Information request, lay out a plan to use part of the building a “state-of-the art” post-graduate teaching facility that would have been open for the 2024 academic year.

The letter from Turley says: “Given the prime location of the University within the vibrant city centre,
there is no other land near the campus that can deliver this quantum or quality of teaching space.”

Turley said the £95m scheme would’ve injected £26m into the local economy every year and supported 375 jobs. The company described the decision to grant the buildings listed status as “sterilising” the land.

The Department for Media, Culture and Sport rejected the city council’s appeal against the listing earlier this month.

Vita Group submitted plans last August to transform the former fire and police stations. The scheme was due to be voted on by Nottingham City Council’s planning committee on Wednesday January 18 – but the planning chief’s report was withdrawn at the last moment.

The police and fire station have been vacant for around seven years.

Meanwhile, initial plans for the first phase of the adjacent Guildhall redevelopment were given the go-ahead three years ago, and included a 162-bed, four-star hotel, a rooftop fine dining restaurant, spa and wedding and conference facilities. The letter from NTU proves that these plans had been ditched.

Turley has accused Historic England turning its back on the redevelopment plans for the site, in its letter. It said: “Given this shared vision for transformative strategic development, it is deeply regrettable that Historic
England has declined to engage with Nottingham City Council and Vita. Historic England refused to attend the design panel in which the proposals for the Former Police Headquarters and Central Fire Station were being considered and did not enter into pre-application discussions with our client.”

Earlier this month, David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, told us: “The council is committed to protecting Nottingham’s heritage and has a good track record of working with Historic England and DCMS to secure funding to restore older buildings in the city. Preserving the Guildhall building, which already had Listed status, was an integral part of our plan for the site.

“However, when public buildings are no longer needed for their original purpose, councils have a duty to consider what future options would provide best value for local taxpayers and would potentially attract private-sector investment. The nature of older buildings means finding a suitable alternative use is often not straightforward.”