One of the key players behind the world-renowned London King’s Cross development has marked out Nottingham as a city with a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ as it resets itself post COVID. Roger Madelin CBE was CEO with developer Argent and responsible for delivering the 67-acre King’s Cross development. He also worked on Argent’s other developments including Thames Valley Park in Reading, Brindleyplace in Birmingham and Piccadilly in Manchester.
With Nottingham City Council poised to improve the now defunct Broad Marsh shopping centre area – 20 acres of prime city centre land, Madelin says the ‘time is right’ for Nottingham. The city’s Southside will help Nottingham reach its great potential in the UK and globally, he said.
Madelin spoke during an extended visit to the city when he toured the Broad Marsh area, The Island Quarter and other key Nottingham sites.
The thinking in the city is more together, in a strategic way, than I was expecting. There are good and experienced people thinking about the city and pulling together in the same direction – you can see this and feel it when you walk the city, the quality of the public realm & the buildings which have been delivered or are on site.
As I walked from the station it felt uplifting, I didn’t want to rush, I wanted to stop and to linger which is good, it means the city is getting it right in terms of scale, proportion, hustle & bustle. There is no aggression, it just feels comfortable and there is good attention to detail. I was surprised how good it felt arriving into the city.
Madelin also applauded the new pedestrian area development around the wider Broad Marsh area designed by Townshend. The proposals show Collin Street as a tree-lined space to Nottingham Castle, with places for people to sit and relax.
Of Thomas Heatherwick’s appointment to reimagine the Broad Marsh area, he said: “Thomas can and will bring out the obvious in a brilliant way. He listens, thinks, absorbs and then shows you the obvious that has not been thought about before.”
Madelin, who is also an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, said: “’Once in a generation’ is an expression no doubt over used but in this instance, I do think that the opportunity presented here in Nottingham is one such.”
Roger said: “Cities need connections and routes to them and through them; this is an obvious statement but the commodity, quality and delight that these frameworks set out determine the quality, adaptability and often the economic success of ‘the place’.
“The opportunity for Nottingham, particularly if the thinking and physical interventions can be made through to the castle, the canal area and to the station could really positively help to encourage the best of development to follow.”
Madelin referred to the green spaces which are opening around the city, particularly the Broad Marsh area, running up to Nottingham Castle – which has seen a £30 million transformation and reopened in June 2021.
This whole area is part of Nottingham Southside – which is seeing well over £2 billion of regeneration and development on site and in planning.
Madelin, who is now with British Land and jointly leading the redevelopment of the 53-acre development of Canada Water in Central London, has praised Nottingham’s ambition and the ideas of using the cliff edge of the castle, the caves and widespread landscape themes.
He said: “In my experience from Birmingham, Manchester and of course at King’s Cross, pressing ahead with the main ‘framework routes’ with real vision, purpose and quality sets the scene for major development activity/inward investment.
Madelin is a preeminent property developer who was awarded a CBE for his work in sustainable development.
John Morgan, Director of Leonard Design Architects, said: “To have Roger Madelin visit Nottingham and comment on the city’s regeneration in such a positive way is incredible. He is someone who has created some of the UK’s best regeneration schemes. For him to say that Nottingham was on the cusp of great opportunity is incredible.
“Nottingham was dealt a bitter blow by the downfall of intu, but the city council has been visionary in its approach for the wider Broad Marsh and in the way it is engaging with the wider city community over the future of this crucial part of the city centre.
“No other Core City in the UK has a 60 acres of redevelopment opportunity at its centre. With the Broad Marsh site and The Island Quarter, Nottingham is prepared for greatness.
“Roger Madelin has shown his support of what the council is doing. Nottingham has much to offer – not only do we have the new Nottingham College site, the new Nottingham Castle and the 40-acre Island Quarter site, but we have Unity Square about to be handed over to HMRC.
Nottingham is on the precipice of reinventing itself at a really crucial point post COVID. Nottingham City Council should be applauded for the way it is working hard with partners, investors and developers.