Nottingham is stagnating. Retail growth has stalled, along with Westfield’s promise of a shiny new Broadmarsh shopping centre. The city has proved its potential as a linear city time and again, with the many shops along Clumber Street and Bridelsmith Gate benefiting from one of the highest footfall figures in Europe, but the Broadmarsh is the monolith blocking this stream of shoppers.
Visitors arriving at Nottingham’s main train station are dropped into chaos, with the hubbub of public transport being the only indication they have arrived in one of the United Kingdom’s regional centres. Navigating towards the centre they are presented with Broadmarsh in its current incarnation, essentially a rear warehouse entrance, an image not enhanced by the surrounding dereliction. Yet it could be so much more, and Liverpool is showing the way.
Approaching its year as European Capital of Culture in 2008, Liverpool had a problem. Retail was stagnating, with the tawdry St. John’s masquerading as the main shopping complex. Added to this, the Albert Docks, one of Liverpool’s major tourist attractions, was separated from the retail core by both a considerable distance and a busy dual carriageway.
The solution was a contemporary shopping centre linking the two, but rather than create an enclosed mecca for shopping, the Liverpool One development utilised a brave multi-level streetscape unafraid of exposure to the elements.
Fears of a cataclysmic shift in the shopping base were completely unfounded. By purposefully avoiding a physical block and instead creating a vibrant, flowing and sustainable street scene retail in Liverpool has grown rapidly, overtaking Nottingham in the process. In addition the effects on the docks have been tremendous, with the newfound accessibility providing a welcome boost in visitor numbers and aiding their transformation into a world-class tourist destination.
What are your thoughts? Is there a limit to how big Nottingham can grow? What other precedents are there to aspire to? Personally, this is as much a blog as it is a plea to the architects, developers and urban planners. Be brave with a modern design for Nottingham’s Broadmarsh; you will not regret it.
Credits: Image linked to source.