Wednesday 21 February 2024
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Hucknall: Heritage and culture to be prioritised in town centre masterplan

Heritage and history will form a wider part of an amended town centre masterplan for Hucknall after Ashfield District Council’s public consultation on an initial draft document came to an end.

The Ashfield Independent-led authority has confirmed it will publish the altered plan next month before cabinet members debate the next stages of the wide-ranging outline on July 19.

It follows the initial consultation on the first stages of the new Hucknall plan, which ran for four weeks between April and May and gathered 43 responses from residents and local organisations.

The council has confirmed 34 of these responses specifically addressed the questions raised by the survey, with the remainder making general comments on the wider plans within the masterplan.

It comes as part of the authority’s ambition to “breathe new life” into Hucknall, with the initial document revealing plans to bring derelict or disused town centre buildings back to life.

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This included re-purposing old and unoccupied sites for retail, food and drink, leisure and residential purposes, and finding ways to develop the town’s currently-thriving night-time economy.

Part of this plan included building off the back of successful businesses like the newly-opened Byron Cinema complex, as well as moving away from shutters on high-street stores to open up shop fronts.

A transport hub was also proposed near the railway and tram station to bring people into the town, while the authority stated it plans to introduce murals, street art and ‘living walls’ to make the town centre “vibrant”.

Details within the masterplan will shape the authority’s £20 million bid for the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, which is expected to be submitted in the coming weeks and will focus specifically on the transport hub.

Now council papers have revealed the initial reactions to the document, stating a “majority” of the 43 responses supported the council’s vision for the town centre.

But papers stated residents felt there was a need to “improve accessibility and legibility into and around the town centre”.

Improvements included safe walking routes from suburbs and the proposed transport hub, while responses also said there was little mention of accessibility for disabled residents.

The latter point, the authority says, will be included in the amended document.

There were also calls for more signposting to out-of-town facilities like Hucknall Leisure Centre and for a potential ‘heritage trail’ around the town.

More information will be added to “recognise the importance of Hucknall’s historic heritage and its sense of history”, with the next masterplan document to be changed to “bolster” heritage and culture.

Crime and anti-social behaviour were also included within responses, the authority adds, with the next masterplan document to “challenge and seek to reduce anti-social behaviour wherever possible”.

And residents also called for extra landscaping, better lighting, CCTV coverage, more disabled and child car parking spaces and more electric car charging ports.

These details are expected to be included in the amended document when the council publishes it in July.

Commenting in a report, Neil Oxby, forward planning officer at the council, said: “[The masterplan] aims to provide a long-term framework for future investment and development, which maximises the opportunities for Hucknall and capitalises on its existing assets.

“It sets out broad over-arching principles and identifies general areas
for improvement, which will enable detailed future projects to be worked up in a timely manner and capitalise on available funding.

“The intention of the masterplan is to be a high-level guide, it is not
intended to be prescriptive.”

Members of the council’s local plan development panel are expected to note the consultation responses during a meeting on Tuesday, July 5.

The cabinet meeting two weeks later will then move the masterplan forwards.

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