Broadmarsh: The Big Conversation – Nottingham Partners Event Update 

If Nottingham city centre was a 1,000 piece jigsaw, the Broadmarsh area would be the middle pieces; tricky to find but absolutely crucial to the overall picture.

We were delighted to host a virtual roundtable discussion on the future of Nottingham’s Broadmarsh site on Friday 27th November. We welcomed our members to hear the perspectives of key stakeholders, property developers and architects and their thoughts on what the future may hold for the Broadmarsh site.

Nottingham City Council has recently launched ‘The Big Conversation’ to ask businesses and citizens what they would like to see at the Broadmarsh site. It is perhaps something of an understatement to say that the Broadmarsh Centre has been waiting a long time to be redeveloped. After previous plans by Westfield fell through in 2011, Intu took over and had its own vision for a major leisure and retail development. Good progress was being made until the coronavirus pandemic, leading to the company going into administration and the site being passed over to the city council.

The Broadmarsh area holds a tremendous amount of potential, and while Intu’s bad fortune caused concern, dismay and disappointment among businesses and residents alike, it has arguably provided an opportunity to reimagine the site in a way that is relevant to Nottingham people and the city’s ongoing development. In our roundtable discussion we were pleased to hear from four key players in Nottingham on their opinions of what should become of the area, answering our members’ questions as the conversation evolved.

We were joined by:

Victoria Green – CEO of Spenbeck

Mel Barrett – CEO of Nottingham City Council

Councillor Sam Webster – Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre at Nottingham City Council

John Morgan – Director at Leonard Design Architects

To see a full biography for each of the speakers, please see the bottom of the article.

The round table discussion was hosted by Nottingham Partners and Marketing Nottingham Chairman, Paul Southby. Our below update will summarise just a few of the key points made in the 90 minute discussion.

The conversation started with the fair first question initially to Councillor Sam Webster- ‘Knowing what we know, did we dodge a bullet?’

The Broadmarsh shopping centre was built in the 1970s, and despite changing hands over the years, the owners have always been major shopping centre operators. Cllr Webster said that by not owning the site itself, it was as if the Council had previously had “one hand tied behind its back”, but now without a shopping centre being at heart of the project, the site could now be transformed into an open Broadmarsh area.  

The panelists agreed that a shopping centre presented a large blockage in the middle of a key space in the city centre, making it difficult to travel between the station and southside of the city and towards the Market Square or Castle area. “We should be creating an area of Nottingham that feels like it belongs and is part of the city, similar to Spenbeck’s work in the Lace Market” said John Morgan. All the panelists agreed that the new area should be split into several smaller connected developments, not one large building.

Victoria Green stressed that the opportunity to transform the Broadmarsh area is a “once in a generation, perhaps once in a lifetime, opportunity.” This sentiment was echoed by Mel, who said the large, gateway site is in a distinctive city and the opportunity for us to create something unique is huge.

Mel talked about how in the post-COVID world, city centres are changing and moving forward the Broadmarsh site needs to reflect those changes and become a city of the future. Mel said “this is a major scheme in a major city” and this is a rare opportunity where we can have a positive outlook and be sure that many inward investors will want to share this opportunity with us.

The site is “huge” and therefore the speakers agreed it will need to be master-planned in order for it to be coherent with a range of uses and reflect the needs of the city. Mel stated that high quality is important for longevity of the city and to create a pride in the people, for the people to get behind the site.

A question was asked by the audience whether the new ‘Broadmarsh area’ will stop where the current Broadmarsh site ends. The panel agreed that the demolition of the shopping centre opens up a “Golden Thread of Development” as put by Cllr Webster. There are already countless regeneration projects happening throughout the city, from the Trent Basin and waterside redevelopment just outside the city centre, up towards the £2bn of investment at the Island Quarter, connecting the newly constructed Nottingham College site and then on to the Broadmarsh. This then leads your eye towards the “hideous” NCP carpark and up towards Maid Marian Way, where future investment could be considered. This would open up the city further, again removing the Broadmarsh blockage and connecting the city.

Victoria mentioned how Nottingham is rich with independent sectors such as the Lace Market area and said how there is “such untapped potential” to connect these sectors. Victoria was also keen to connect the new site with the old Nottingham, pre-Broadmarsh. This could perhaps be as simple as using old road names such as ‘Drury Hill’ or creating buildings with a heritage feel or bringing back the old streetscape.

John suggested this may be an opportunity to realise the potential of Nottingham’s waterside and canals. The Island Quarter are already building alongside the canal which could easily lead up to the new Broadmarsh area developments.

The speakers talked about “a sense of stuff happening in Nottingham” at the moment, with developments and cranes to be seen all around the city. Sam mentioned how site in the Lace Market that haven’t been in use for decades are back up and running at full capacity.

Mel ended the session by saying how Nottingham is “ambitious for our place and ambitious for our people” and the site should reflect that ambition. Mel said he would like to see something that is “open, confident, inclusive, permeable, connects places and people.” He said he wants it to be a destination, a place where people want to meet up and is somewhere that reflects the diversity and vibrancy of our community, so that it can be celebrated by all.

If you would like to have your say on Broadmarsh: The Big Conversation, please find some background to the site and a link to the survey here.

If you are a member of Nottingham Partners and missed the event, or would like to listen back, please email to be sent the recording.

If you’re interested in becoming a member of Nottingham Partners and join Nottingham’s premier business community where you’ll get to have your say about Nottingham’s future, read our brochure here or email

Biographies of the session speakers:

Victoria Green – CEO of Spenbeck

Victoria is CEO of Spenbeck, a second-generation family property development business specialising in heritage-led regeneration through its Grade II listed commercial creative space in Nottingham’s Lace Market.

For almost 40 years, Spenbeck has been synonymous with spearheading The Lace Market’s regeneration through the leadership of its Chairman, Mitch Stevenson OBE DL & now his daughters Victoria and Becky who have been at the forefront of its most recent transformation.

Spenbeck’s creative spaces have been called “an exemplar of heritage led-regeneration” and “stewardship at its very best”, combining heritage preservation with environmentally-sustainable and inclusive bespoke workspaces to suit future working practices.

Mel Barrett – CEO of Nottingham City Council

Mel joined Nottingham City Council as CEO only 3 months ago. Mel was previously Chief Executive of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.  He has a successful track record in the management of largescale customer facing services, organisational change and transformation initiatives, and the delivery of largescale regeneration and development projects.  Projects still underway in Basingstoke include a joint venture to develop the Manydown garden village, on 2,000 acres south west of Basingstoke, which will provide approximately 8,000 – 10,000 homes eventually, together with the rolling redevelopment of the council’s 1 million sqft. town centre Basing View Business Park.

Prior to joining Basingstoke and Deane, Mel was Executive Director of Housing and Regeneration at the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.  There he had responsibility for delivering a comprehensive service improvement programme to a £1 billion residential property portfolio comprising 18,000 dwellings, and worked to secure the HS2 Crossrail interchange station in the borough at Old Oak Common, bringing with it significant investment into the borough.

Mel was previously Oxford City Council’s Executive Director for City Regeneration.  There he successfully delivered a new Local Plan and won the Carbon Trust Award for Public Sector Innovation in respect of Oxford City Council’s Carbon Reduction Programme.  He also secured blue chip joint venture development partners for both a major retail led redevelopment of Oxford’s Westgate Shopping Centre, and an urban extension to the city comprising 1000 homes in a joint venture. Mel also successfully built and delivered the first new council homes in the city for over twenty five years.

Councillor Sam Webster – Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre at Nottingham City Council

Sam came to Nottingham aged 18 to study Government and Politics at Nottingham Trent University. He has lived and worked in Nottingham ever since and has an employment background in the skills, training and apprenticeships sector. Sam volunteered as a Special Police Constable for over 2 years in Nottingham.  As well as being Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and The City Centre, Sam has been a volunteer board member at Nottingham Credit Union for many years.  Sam’s key areas of interest are education, health and ensuring the City is clean and green.

John Morgan – Director at Leonard Design Architects

John Morgan is a Director of the award-winning design practice, Leonard Design Architects – headquartered in Nottingham, with offices in London, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur & Berlin.

Before joining Leonard Design, John worked in house as Design Director at one of the world’s leading property companies and now works as part of the Leonard Design Team leading regeneration project for Local Authorities and developers across the UK & Europe and further afield in Korea and Australia.

The innovative and dynamic agency applies its extensive international experience to a range of sectors including retail, residential, mixed use developments, interiors, graphic design and masterplanning.