Broadmarsh Sparks Nottingham’s Imagination Once More

The recent past of Broadmarsh Shopping Centre in Nottingham has been troubled to say the least. With multiple design proposals to re-haul, renovate or replace the dying shopping centre being scrapped each time for various unfortunate reasons. But now with a sparked interest by the Nottingham public and renowned international designers, the space could become an example of how cities should be designed in the modern day.

Built in the early 1970’s, Nottingham’s Broadmarsh Shopping Centre was marred with controversy from the beginning. In order to clear the space for the new structure a number of historic sites including a network of caves and Drury Lane, a narrow shopping street, were demolished. The 45,000m2 retail centre has since seen a number of changes but has never been a favourite by locals being voted the “ugliest building in Nottingham”. Plans to demolish the centre to pave the way for something new have been circulating since 2002 but with no significant progress until recently.

Broadmarsh Centre circa 1975

The Green Quarter

Following the administration of Intu, the most recent owners of the Broadmarsh, Nottingham City Council started ‘The Big Conversation’. The consultation exercise ran for two months and asked for the public’s opinions on what the Broadmarsh site should be re-imagined as.

Steven Lane, Architectural Assistant at Leonard Design, co-founded the ‘Nottingham Green Quarter’ proposal alongside another designer, residents and organisations including Nottingham Good Food Partnership & Nottingham Cohousing. The vision of the Green Quarter was to integrate nature with affordable eco housing, A-rated green business premises, new visitor attractions, urban agriculture and healthy places to eat and buy fresh food.

The proposal gained significant interest and was presented as a public Zoom meeting in January 2021.

Broadmarsh Sparks Student’s Imagination

During a difficult year for students, the Nottingham Green Quarter’s proposal for Broadmarsh created an opportunity to explore an exciting local concept in more detail. Year 5 students at the University of Nottingham investigated the proposal and developed their own detailed designs for the masterplan. Focusing on the Severn’s House site in the Broadmarsh area, the students work predominately explored the retrofit and adaptation of the existing buildings.

To showcase the inspired work by the students, Nottingham Cohousing and the University of Nottingham hosted a joint public presentation via Facebook Live. The event took place on the 13th July and can still be viewed here:

Proposal from student at University of Nottingham based on the Nottingham Green Quarter

Broadmarsh Vision Becomes Reality

On the same day as the University of Nottingham’s presentation, Nottingham City Council announced that Heatherwick Studio have been commissioned to create a new vision for the Broadmarsh area.

Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio, said:

“We’re excited and honoured to be involved in the Broad Marsh project – and it’s inspiring that Nottingham City Council has already been talking so much to the public about what could be possible through the Big Conversation.

“When you bring together this pivotal site with the heritage of the castle and caves, alongside the existing investment in the new library and college, we think there’s an amazing chance to reimagine this part of the city and bring it alive again.”

Steven Lane, was invited to talk on BBC Radio Nottingham about the announcement due to his involvement of the creation of The Green Quarter proposal:

“I’m really excited that he has now turned his eye to Nottingham, my hometown, hopefully he can bring some of his great ideas to the city. Heatherwick has the ability to integrate new elements to existing buildings such as greenery, something organic or biophilic in design which would be great for Nottingham”

Penney Poyzer, also from The Nottingham Green Quarter and Nottingham Good Food Partnership, was part of the discussion:

“I just love the idea that Nottingham suddenly becomes reminiscent of the times of Sherwood Forest and we create something that is completely different and that the world really looks on it being a way to build cities in the future. It’s the opportunity to live, work and play in a sustainable place that maximises our planets limited resources and which really helps us to achieve our carbon neutral aims.”

Broadmarsh Centre as it stands today

Nottingham’s Green Future

With the amount of interest from the public, the council and renowned world-class designers the Broadmarsh development now looks to be in safe (hopefully green) hands. Leonard Design have always been very interested in the area, with Nottingham being our hometown and our headquarters are sat on the perimeter of the site.

David Leonard, Director of Leonard Design, had this to say about the Broadmarsh news:

“We are delighted to have so much creative energy and consultation going into the regeneration of the unique Broadmarsh area of Nottingham – it is the City’s amazing opportunity to become an international showcase for sustainable green regeneration, putting people, culture and history at its heart. Nowhere else has our unique combination of escarpments, caves, Lace Market and Castle”

For more information on our connection with Nottingham and our project such as the new Central Library, click the link below.