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Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust: Green vision for Nottingham's Broadmarsh Shopping Centre could be a model for others

As someone born and bred in the county, who has spent a lifetime with the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre looming large every time I visited the south of Nottingham city centre, the opportunity of the city council’s Big Conversation, to feed in ideas about the site’s future, is one that Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust wanted to grab with both hands, writes Erin McDaid.

As part of our efforts to get a better deal for wildlife across the county we have spent decades pushing for the area to be made greener and contributing to previous proposals for redevelopment down the years.

Broadmarsh visualisation by Influence. (43743503)
Broadmarsh visualisation by Influence. (43743503)

Opportunity for Nottingham to transform the whole area now that ownership has reverted to the council is simply too good to miss.

As the city seeks to recover from the human and economic impacts of the pandemic, a Broadmarsh re-imagined as 100% natural green space would improve the health of city residents and would demonstrate the city’s commitment to tackling the ecological crisis as well as the climate crisis, on which it has taken a lead.

The reaction to our proposal also suggests the time is right for towns and cities across the UK to take a new approach to regeneration as retail continues to decline and as people’s need for access to green space to maintain wellbeing is recognised.

Broadmarsh visualisation by Influence. (43743503)
Broadmarsh visualisation by Influence. (43743503)

While Nottingham has green spaces to be proud of, the heart of the city is grey not green.

Where new developments have replaced old, fragments of remaining green space have sadly disappeared and key opportunities to recreate vital new green areas have been thrown away.

We believe that now is the time to put nature back into Nottingham and other urban areas.

Over the summer there were many calls for green space to be at the heart of the redevelopment but we have pressed for the city take things a stage further ­— to lift their sights and explore the potential of a truly radical nature-first approach, which would benefit the city and the surrounding districts and boroughs and potentially boost tourism across our county.

Broadmarsh visualisation by Influence. (43743506)
Broadmarsh visualisation by Influence. (43743506)

Over the past few weeks our team has shaped our vision for the site, with 100% of the derelict and demolished shopping centre transformed into a natural urban oasis.

This vision has been brought to life with the support of Newark-based landscape architects Influence and it has been exciting to see ideas visualised in full colour.

We believe that the site could become Nottingham’s own mini Central Park ­— the city’s living breathing heartbeat, where people can connect with nature and escape the stresses of urban life without leaving the city.

With woodland, wetland, wild-flower meadows and stunning views towards the iconic Nottingham Castle, a reimagined Broadmarsh would benefit everyone living, working and studying in our city.

It would create a space to connect with nature, hear birdsong and smell wild flowers ­— a spectacular space in which to gather, relax and recharge.

As cities everywhere seek to rebuild their economies from the impacts of the pandemic, Nottingham could lead the way in the UK with a bold vision for a greener economic recovery that would boost tourism and stimulate inward investment.

As we work to secure 30% of the UK’s land for nature by 2030 we believe that a green transformation of the Broadmarsh could also be a catalyst for further investment in existing green spaces and as springboard to reconnecting our fine city to the Sherwood Forest landscape.

Such a vision would bring people together and put the city’s nature into recovery at a time when natural green space has never been more valued or needed.

We will be presenting our vision to Nottingham City Council as part of the Big Conversation and would welcome your views and support.

Details of our vision can be found at nottinghamshirewildlife.org

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