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Beales: University pulls out of former department store plans

The redevelopment of the former Beales department store is still on track despite Nottingham Trent University no longer planning on moving in as tenant, the Mansfield mayor said yesterday.

The Mansfield Connect project would transform the site into a new headquarters for the council and some of its partner organisations.

Nottingham Trent University says it now no longer plans to be a tenant in the hub, although it will continue to support the scheme in other ways.

The derelict former Beales building has been closed since 2019

Mayor Councillor Andy Abrahams (Lab) assured a full council meeting on Tuesday (October 24) that the project would continue, although it may be on a reduced scale.

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He also dismissed concerns from Conservatives that the project would drag on without becoming a reality.

Although the council is still speaking to third parties who may be interested in the space, it is assuming that more parts of the former department store will  likely be demolished and replaced as a result of the university no longer becoming a tenant.

The new hub on Stockwell Gate was awarded £20million of government Levelling Up cash earlier this year.

An artists impression of the Beales public sector hub

The Department of Work & Pensions, Nottinghamshire County Council and West Notts College have also expressed an interest in being based at the site.

Mr Abrahams told the meeting that the university no longer being a tenant “affords the opportunity to remodel a redevelopment solution based on a greater amount of demolition of existing space and replace with new build, whilst retaining the more valued aspect of the asset overall, with that element being refurbished.

“This is because less total space is needed overall and therefore it is more viable to deliver this – rather than refurbishment in totality.

“With this approach it is anticipated that all of the space redeveloped will still be fully let to third parties and the overheads fully shared.”

Mr Abrahams also said the private sector would have been unable to deliver the project on its own without council leadership.

A business case will go before the Overview and Scrutiny Corporate Committee on November 7.

The mayor will make a formal decision on whether the council will relocate from the Civic Centre to Mansfield Connect at a later date.

Councillor Andre Camilleri (Con) asked the mayor when the town could expect work to start and finish, but did not receive an answer.

An NTU spokesperson said: “NTU is working closely with key stakeholders on the Connect development, and, to date, has provided advisory support on the project.

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