New businesses might turn their back on Nottingham if funding is not secured to demolish the derelict former Broadmarsh shopping centre, business leaders have warned.
Nottingham City Council is already offering £5,000 grants to independent retailers opening a new business in the city.
This is to help fill the number of vacant units around the half-demolished Broadmarsh shopping centre.
The money has come from the Government as part of its Covid recovery plans.
However, this week, the city council missed out on a £20m grant from Government.
The Levelling Up grant would have meant the rest of the half-demolished shopping centre would be flattened and cleared.
The demolition is a key part of the council’s vision to attract developers and build ‘a mixed use’ scheme on the site, which could include housing, shops and some green space.
Ongoing financial problems at the authority means it is not in a position to pay for the work itself.
Cllr David Mellen, leader of Nottingham City Council, said the authority plans to put another bid into Government in Spring next year.
He is hoping that a vision for the whole site – which is due to be unveiled in December – will prompt the Government to invest.
He said: “While the announcement was disappointing, it doesn’t affect the exciting work that’s currently under way to create a bright and bold future vision for the Broadmarsh site.
“The independent Broadmarsh Advisory Group, with expert oversight from Thomas Heatherwick, will be bringing their vision forward in the coming weeks.
“We hope that this work will strengthen the fresh bid that we plan to put together for the next round of Levelling Up funding next spring.
“We will be engaging with the Government, who have offered feedback sessions to unsuccessful places to support applications into the next round, to give our bid the best possible chance of success.
“We firmly believe that such a significant central regeneration site in one of England’s core cities cannot be ignored by a Government which wants to level up the country.
“In the meantime, we will continue to use the funding we secured from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership to complete the first phase of demolition that’s under way on site.”
East Midlands Chamber chief executive Scott Knowles, which represents businesses across Nottingham, said the news is a “bitter blow for the city.”
He said: “The Broadmarsh Centre is a hugely symbolic part of Nottingham city centre, sitting at the southern gateway to the city and is the first thing many visitors see when they arrive.
“Having already sat idle in a half-demolished state for the past 18 months, the people of Nottingham will be eager to see some real progress in the vision for this strategically crucial site.
“Clearly, this can’t happen until it is fully demolished, so the rejected funding application is a bitter blow for the city.
“There are many businesses ready to invest in Nottingham as people return to city centres following the pandemic, but they will want to know what the short, medium and long-term future now holds for the Broadmarsh area.”
Nelson Blackley, independent retail analyst, explained the long-term implications of having a half demolished shopping centre in the heart of the city for months to come.
He said: “The news this week that Nottingham’s bid for £20m of Government funding to cover the cost of further demolition has been unsuccessful is another blow for the ongoing redevelopment of the Broadmarsh site.
“Although the City Council has already secured funding to demolish the western end of the site near to Maid Marian Way, its bid for £20m of from the Government’s Levelling Up Funding was essential to demolish to rest of the huge Broadmarsh site and to fit out the new Central Library.
“Nottingham City Council have repeatedly confirmed they don’t have the funds to cover these costs and from an early stage have made it clear that they need to attract investors to deliver the project.
“Meanwhile this latest funding decision creates several problems.
“A half-demolished site does nothing to add to the visual appeal of the southern gateway to Nottingham and after over two years, it might also create a feeling in the minds of both Nottingham’s residents and visitors to the city that this ‘eyesore’ may exist for the foreseeable future.
“The site in its current state doesn’t really convey the huge potential it offers for city centre redevelopment and so is less attractive to those investors and developers who might be interested in being involved in what, at around 20 acres, is one of the largest city centre development opportunities in the UK.
“Ideally, it needs to be flattened as quickly as possible but which of course this week’s decision delays this process.
“Finally, the key question is where might the funding to undertake this essential demolition come from?
“The council had previously said that if the bid to government was unsuccessful, it would look for other funding avenues to ensure the site was demolished but they now need to be clear about exactly which ‘funding avenues’ might be possible and be transparent about the timescales involved.”