By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
Nottingham City Council will “probably” put in a third bid to the Government’s Levelling Up fund after it failed to land £20m for the Broadmarsh redevelopment for a second time.
The Labour-run council had hoped to secure the money to transform the former shopping centre’s frame, with work on the Green Heart area and Central Library already currently taking place.
On January 18 the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced the successful bidders to the £2.1bn pot of cash.
A number of council area projects across Nottinghamshire missed out on funding including Nottingham, Gedling, Broxtowe and Newark and Sherwood.
Nottingham City Council failed with all three of its bids, including £17m for the Island Quarter, £20m for Bulwell and £20m for Broadmarsh, prompting claims the money had been unfairly handed out to areas in the south-east and those that are Conservative-held.
In an interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service leader Cllr David Mellen (Lab), said: “We’ve always said the city council cannot do this on our own, so we will be looking for further public and private money to enable us to really [use] the frame…rather than knock it all down, which is clearly very bad for the environment.
“That would still be our preference to do this.
“All plans are going to cost money so whether we retain the frame that is still there, or whether we remove some more of it, that is still to be decided.
“This is a significant site in the middle of a core city, just down the road from the railway station with HS2 promised to come in the future, with other things around it showing really good access to this site.
“I am not really lacking in confidence that we will be able to draw investment to this area.
“I think the question is how quickly that can happen and whether there are any other opportunities to achieve money from Government.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) estimates a bid in itself can cost in the region of £30,000.
A third round of Levelling Up funding will be opened, the Government has confirmed, although the total available is expected to be less.
“Obviously it is less than has been given out this time, I would imagine we will probably resubmit, but we will have to get our feedback from Government as to how likely it is we would be successful,” Cllr Mellen added.
Cllr Mellen went on to argue the distribution of funding, which entirely missed out cities such as Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, did not make economic sense.
Business leaders in the region echoed the concerns.
Natalie Gasson-McKinley MBE, the Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Over 3,000 Nottingham residents got behind and fed into the consultation that shaped the plans for the Broadmarsh redevelopment.
“So, it is an incredibly disappointing blow for those that put a substantial amount of time and effort into producing the Levelling-Up bid.
“Redevelopment of the whole Broadmarsh area was set to drastically improve the city centre, creating a re-imagined public realm that had the capability to transform the experience of those living, working and visiting the city.
“Whilst the bid was rejected, I hope that the passion and momentum to make this Broadmarsh vision a reality isn’t lost.”
East Midlands Chamber chief executive, Scott Knowles, added: “Complemented by other nearby developments such as the Island Quarter, it will re-imagine how the city centre looks for decades to come, so it’s a great shame Westminster has once again turned its back on Nottingham.
“All is not lost, however, as there is plenty for investors to get behind in the form of an ambitious vision created by well-respected experts from both within and outside the East Midlands.
“We know the post-Covid, twenty-first century city centre must offer a healthy mix of uses across living, working and leisure, and the Broadmarsh transformation programme would deliver this.
“It’s important the council now works hand in hand with the city’s businesses to tap into their expertise and contacts in order to find the investment that is required to turn this dream into reality.”