Nottingham has missed out on millions of pounds in government funding that would have gone towards projects including the ongoing redevelopment of the Broad Marsh. Nottingham City Council bid for £57m in the second round of the Government's levelling up fund last summer, with Nottingham's Island Quarter and Bulwell town centre being the other two areas that would have benefitted from the money.
The Government has now announced 11 projects in the East Midlands have been allocated a combined total of £176 million from the levelling up fund, but none of them are in Nottingham. Instead, successful Nottinghamshire bids include £18 million for Worksop, part of which will be used to create a new leisure facility featuring ten pin bowling and a soft play area.
The other areas of Nottinghamshire to receive some of the funding are Kimberley, Sutton-in-Ashfield and Mansfield. But as work continues on transforming the derelict Broad Marsh shopping centre, some in Nottingham have expressed anger the city has not received any money at all from the latest round.
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Alex Norris, the Labour and Co-op MP for Nottingham North, said: "It's exceptionally disappointing to see that our city's bids have not succeeded. The government has no interest in supporting Nottingham. Nevertheless, our ideas are good ones and we will keep fighting to see them become reality.
"Our Bulwell bid was a good one and what the town needs. People will be disappointed but we will bounce back and work to make these plans a reality."
The levelling up fund is intended to help communities across the UK and Nottingham City Council missed out on its original £20 million Broad Marsh bid during the fund's first round in 2021. A decision on this second attempt was initially due in October, but it was delayed twice.
The redevelopment of the 20-acre Broad Marsh site is one of the most significant city centre projects in the UK. Following the collapse of intu, the owners of the former shopping centre, work began in 2020 on deciding the future of the site.
The Broad Marsh element of Nottingham City Council's bid, totalling £20 million, would have centred on retaining the Frame of the former shopping centre. The Frame is one of the key visions for the Broad Marsh, with the city council intending to use it as a space to "bring people together in the city for play, performance and food."
The council said at the time of submitting its bid that the Frame would unlock other key elements of the Broad Marsh project, which overall is expected to create 6,000 jobs, 750 homes and over 400,000 sq ft of commercial and business space. Nottingham City Council says that it will now explore other sources of private and public funding that can be used for the Frame element of the Broad Marsh development.
Councillor David Mellen, the leader of Nottingham City Council, said: "All three Nottingham bids were very strong and clearly aligned to what the levelling up fund is meant to be about. So it's clearly a big disappointment that all of them have been turned down for levelling up funding, which Nottingham so clearly needs.
"There has been huge support for the exciting new vision for Broad Marsh we unveiled just over a year ago which was based on feedback received from the Big Conversation, the largest public engagement exercise we had ever undertaken. Work on the Green Heart, which was a key element of the vision and something many people wanted to see, will still get underway this year using national funding we have already secured.
"We will continue our public realm improvements in the area, which are also funded from a different Government pot, as well as completing the fit-out of the new Central Library later this year. Anyone visiting the area today can see that a huge transformation has already taken place and with more to come - especially the Green Heart which I think is going to be a hugely exciting, popular and welcome addition to our city centre - there's still a lot to be positive about."
The other elements of the city council's bid were £20 million for Bulwell, which would have seen improvements to the market place, the restoration of heritage buildings and the creation of a new Bulwell Promenade. The remaining £17 million would have been used to transform three warehouses in Nottingham's Island Quarter, with that bid having been submitted on behalf of Conygar, the development company which has been working in the area.
Speaking about these two projects, Councillor Mellen added: "The Bulwell project would have helped to transform the town centre while the Island Quarter bid would have brought three derelict but landmark buildings on the site back into use. This week we started work on redeveloping Bulwell bus station which will bring some improvement to the town but clearly there was much more we wanted to do to help rejuvenate the town centre.
"Conygar still have exciting plans for the Island Quarter, with a new canalside bar and restaurant already open, work underway on new student accommodation and proposals for a hotel, private apartments, offices including a planning application for a new bioscience building and public spaces in the pipeline."
But in terms of the projects that have been successful, Mansfield will be getting £20 million to transform the disused Beales department store into an office space and civic hub. Ben Bradley, the town's Conservative MP, said: "I am over the moon to see that Mansfield's bid to the levelling up fund has been granted in full by government. This means we now have access to the £20 million we needed to redevelop our town centre into something we can all be proud of.
"The potential for the old Beales building to be developed and brought back into use has long been talked about and this money from government means these plans can finally become reality and we can get construction started."
The other successful Nottinghamshire bids will see Worksop getting £18 million for a new leisure facility and a new towpath link along the Chesterfield Canal, whilst Sutton-in-Ashfield will get £3.1 million to transform a Victorian underground reservoir into a science discovery centre and planetarium.
Finally, £16.5 million will be spent in Kimberley, including on town centre improvements and boosting the area's cycle path network. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "Through greater investment in local areas, we can grow the economy, create good jobs and spread opportunity everywhere.
"That's why we are backing a number of projects with new transformational funding to level up local communities in the East Midlands. By reaching even more parts of the country than before, we will build a future of optimism and pride in people's lives and the places they call home."
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