Broad Marsh Nottingham – news (or is it?)

Intu stomped into town yesterday and with a fanfare made a joint announcement with Nottingham City Council.


They signed a conditional development agreement for intu Broadmarsh yesterday, “which will play a fundamental part in transforming the shopping experience in Nottingham.

The blurb suggests:

The signing of the agreement is an important step in the major improvements that are planned for Nottingham’s two main shopping centres over the next few years, including:

· The £40million remodelling and refurbishment at intu Victoria Centre which is already underway.
· The £150m proposed investment by intu and the City Council in the redevelopment of intu Broadmarsh, the car park and associated public realm improvements.
· Ahead of a wider development and extension of intu Victoria Centre.

So, on the face of it great news. After years of withering on the vine we are ready to get going. Well not quite.

Forgive my cynicism (and I really want this development to happen ahead of everything else in Nottingham!) but the language still remains slightly guarded.

Take this soundbite,

Mike Butterworth, chief operating officer for intu, said: “intu now has in place investment plans that will extend and upgrade the city’s two favourite shopping destinations, introduce new brands, restaurants and leisure spaces and create new and improved gateways to the city in the north and south. Work is already underway on the first of these projects with the £40million remodelling and refurbishment of intu Victoria Centre and I am really pleased that we can start to take the intu Broadmarsh plan forward as well.”

The agreement, which is subject to commercial and legal conditions, means that construction work to extend and refurbish intu Broadmarsh could start before the end of 2015.

So to be clear – Work is underway on Victoria Centre. It has started. Blokes on site – high-biz jackets adorning the place. And we can start to take Broadmarsh forward. And work could start before the end of 2015. I guess forward is better than backwards and ‘could’ is better than ‘couldn’t’.

I do realise that there are commercial sensitivities here and that the road with Intu has been rocky. The City have done well to to get this far – but wouldn’t it have been so good to be told that works had started?

Shopping Centres – too big to fill?

Last week there was a report by Exane BNP Parabis who are a Rating Agency – they rated Intu a sell at 300p – the group lost 3p to 328p. Intu, of course own Nottingham’s Broadmarsh and Victoria Centre’s. They are estimated control around 70% of the Nottingham retail floorspace.


This isn’t great news – I am not celebrating their loss in share value.

But in the release there was an interesting statement – “Intu Properties could be hit by more retailers shutting stores” and “Fundamental outlook has clearly got better with commercial real estate prices ending their 18-month losing streak,” but it questioned whether Intu’s centres are “too big to fill”.

I suggested last week that there seems to be a little more confidence about – but the store closures continue. And the analysts think the centres are “too big to fill“.

When are we going to realise that we have too many shops? We have to find a better solution and come to terms with the fact that the High Street is in terminal decline. If we don’t act soon the odd gappy teeth will require full dentures.

I know I’m going to blog more about this later in the week! I have a very interesting lunch in London on Thursday …

Nottingham Broadmarsh – don’t hold your breath….

The saga of the Nottingham Broadmarsh centre continues. Ever since CSC acquired the centre from Westfield in 2011 the centre has faced an uncertain future and has gradually gone (further) downhill. It’s a pretty sad place.

The dream of Broadmarsh - Westfield style...

The dream of Broadmarsh – Westfield style…

Yesterday Intu (formerly known as CSC) published their annual account. And it contains some little nuggets to tell you about their intentions for Nottingham. Don’t get too excited.

In essence the order of batting is:

Victoria Centre refurbishment 2013-15 – £38m
Broadmarsh refurbishment …
Victoria Centre extension …

In respect of the latter two, the picture is suitably vague, they say, “we are progressing plans for refurbishment of the Victoria Centre, which will be followed by the redevelopment of Broadmarsh and the extension of the Victoria Centre”. The timescale for their “Nottingham Projects” is 2016-19 and the sum put aside is £260m. There’s no split as to where the money is going. But last September CSC denied they were shelving plans for a “£240m for the Victoria Centre extension”. It’s always dangerous to mix two lots of ‘data’ – but if the maths are right that leaves £20m for Broadmarsh?

In shopping centre terms thats just about a lick of paint and some new patio doors leading to the station?

There is some logic though here. CSC bought Broadmarsh from Westfield for £55m. Their asset value in their accounts for Victoria Centre is £308m. Victoria Centre has always been the better centre, it gets the early cash injection (£38m) for refurbishment. I think you can see what Intu think of Broadmarsh…. Not much!

This is not the right answer for Nottingham.

Nottingham Broad Marsh – not quite what we were expecting

A couple of days ago there was an air of anticipation in town; Capital Shopping Centres announced plans for The Victoria Centre and Broadmarsh Centre.


Although I was hopeful that this was the news Nottingham was wanting – the redevelopment of the poundland centre – sadly it wasn’t. It seems that CSC are to spend £25m – which isn’t quite enough to sort the issues of Broadmarsh. It might just about replace the patio doors leading to the station?

The £25m announcement is split though – “£7m would be spent on brand creation, £8m on digital infrastructure and £10m on the acquisition and start-up phase of a new website”, according to the press release.

So what do we get? Well, we get a new name. It’s going to be called Intu-Broadmarsh and Intu-Viccy Centre. I think.

£25m well spent? Well from May we’ll have wifi in the Intu. And fibre optic. And a web site. Wow.

In case no one had noticed this is known in the trade as polishing a turd. It needs a bit more than this to rescue the Broadmarsh Centre from oblivion.

I was told a little while ago that an announcement was imminent – I have seen some plans. So perhaps this announcement is one of those PR moves to lower expectations. When the big day comes it should be that we’ll get wifi and an HMV? Can’t wait.

In the meantime – going into the Intu for my Intu will become a national pastime? Catchy? No.

Nottingham Shopping – the scientific analysis

We get a pretty rough ride in the press – especially after the Local Data Company published its’s survey of empty shops earlier this year. We don’t score well – but that’s principally because the survey area is so widely drawn as to make a nonsense of headlines!

city_retail 1174

I blogged about the September 30% vacancy rate here. There may well be an opportunity to revisit the data soon.

But in the meantime I have noticed that it is Christmas soon. I have been working an quite a few projects in Nottingham City centre over the last few weeks – and on Sunday foolishly thought we were sufficiently in recession to ‘pop’ into town to do all of my Christmas shopping.

It was madness.

The queue for the car park was long – for 2.30pm, the shops were solid and the tills were ringing. It didn’t look like much of a recession to me.

So there are two schools of thought. Firstly that we are out of recession and life has returned to the sunshine state of miles of smiles. Or, people have been so fed up of being told we are in recession that have decided to blow the credit card to pieces – and go out with a bang.

It will be interesting to see the retailers figures over the next few weeks but my scientific analysis of the situation is that they are all having a good time this year? Certainly better than last?

Nottingham – future good news?

I had my newsletter last week from the Chief Executives office at the City. It made for some positive reading. Here are some extracts…


Since July the City Council, together with public and private sectors partners, has started to put the Growth Plan into action; making good progress on some of the key projects:

· Work on Nottingham’s Enterprise Zone is set to get underway, with the announcement last week of a £25m funding package for the redevelopment of the Boots campus.
· The City are close to finalising the finance package for the £37.5m Nottingham Investment Fund. It is expected to be finalised around Christmastime, and the Fund to be opened to applicants early in the New Year.
· The City has also been successful in their £10m Regional Growth Fund bid for the Nottingham Technology Grant Fund, which will provide grant funding for technology-based business.
· The Government has confirmed £1m City Deal funding for the Generation Y programme, which will provide a range of support to young entrepreneurs (aged between 16 and 35).
· The Apprenticeship Hub was launched this month, aiming to create 1,000 high quality apprenticeships that meet the needs of employers.

There is still much to do though. The City is still slipping behind – particularly in shopping terms. The Broadmarsh situation doesn’t help. In fact, at the weekend, I was really uninspired by the Victoria Centre too. If it weren’t for John Lewis (Jessops!) I can’t really think of a reason to be there. House of Fraser is like a jumble sale – and at the other end of the place. I don’t mind the walk if there is something to look at a long the way – but there isn’t. Bridlesmith Gate seems, on the other hand, to be improving – with some new shops – including Hugo Boss. I am convinced that a better retail offer will make the city feel a whole lot better!

Nottingham’s shopping – the truth is out there….

I blogged last week about a story I had heard that Capital Shopping Centre’s had effectively put on hold their plans for an extension to the Victoria Centre.

And then came to me an official statement from CSC which is in direct contradiction to that ‘story’. I can do no better than to ‘cut and paste’ from the press release…

…We are proud to confirm that we have a £1bn ten-year pipeline of projects, including exciting plans for major extensions at five of our centres, including Victoria Centre and Broadmarsh.

Our investment plans are grounded on the belief that Nottingham is a great city and has the potential to be even better. CSC has been at the heart of Nottingham for over forty years and we remain passionate and committed to driving the city back up the retail rankings.

We feel it is important to take a city wide approach when devising our development plans, and not view our shopping centres in isolation.

To achieve this, we are actively engaging with the Council to discuss plans that would see both the Victoria Centre and Broadmarsh, the city centre and the public realm much improved as part of a wider strategy to bring more people to the city. CSC will focus upon plans for its centres and will work with the council to develop plans for the rest of the city centre and public areas.

We are currently developing plans to upgrade the two shopping destinations, bringing new brands, restaurants and leisure spaces to re-establish Nottingham’s status as the top shopping destination in the Midlands. Our plans will ensure that each shopping centre has a distinct and complementary identity playing to its inherent strengths.

We will work with our retailers, our shoppers, local residents and the Council to ensure our plans support improvements in the heart of the city centre, helping securing a new café-style culture and bustling squares and streets.

CSC will only bring forward viable and deliverable plans based on bringing the right shops in the right spaces.

So, where does the truth lie in this story. Ten years is quite a long time! Viable and deliverable plans offers an ability to blame external factors. But upgrading sounds goo. Cafe culture sounds good. Inherent strengths in Broadmarsh equals Poundland (not so good).

So… when does work start?

Broad Marsh and Victoria Centre Shopping – update

I heard today that CSC, owners of both of Nottingham’s Shopping Centres have decided not to extend theVictoria Centre as had been proposed. The £250m project is not going ahead. This is due to the economic climate.

This news cuts both ways. I was opposed to pushing our retail offer further north – preferring the Broadmarsh centre to get developed first. It looks like we now have two stalled schemes…

There must be some good news soon!

Nottingham – Broad Marsh Centre – don’t hold your breath

You will know if you drop by here often that the fate of the Broad Marsh Centre exercises me frequently. The commercial world is a different one we saw back in 2006. The Westfield £400m scheme is nothing now more than a set of dust covered plans. And the harsh reality is that those days aren’t about to return anytime soon.

What Broadmarsh won’t look like

But last week the new owners made an announcement. We had been waiting with baited breath – this is important stuff for us.

And the good news? Well, CSC, the owners ‘hopes to‘ make a Planning Application in 2013. Then, ‘Work could start on site in 2014, dependent on planning permission, and the centre could potentially reopen in 2016.’. So hope and potential. And opening in 2016 – hopefully. In four years time. With luck.

This is not an announcement. The rest of the PR is about how the current centre doesn’t work. How the big shops of old are no longer there, how it needs to change it’s look and feel. This I agree with. We know there is no major scheme in the pipeline here.

The good news is that they will try to create a mall of smaller independent shops and restaurants.

But am I the only person who thinks the centre will be dead and buried in four years time? It is already dire. Unless it changes soon (2012 soon) then it will just become more of a ‘value centre’ i.e Poundland, Everythings-a-pound, 99p stores, Wilkinsons, Heron Foods and other such aspirational retailers…

Nottingham deserves better than this, until you spot that the announcement drops out that Victoria Centre will get extended in… 2013. No sign of hope and potential…

What I want for Christmas

This, if you know me, is a somewhat premature list. A week ago, I was asked what the City’s messages are going to be for us to take to MIPIM 2012. I’m not sure I am qualified to be deciding the City’s messages – but since they asked (and apparently it is getting close to Christmas – approx. one month I’m reliably informed) here’s a suggested list. I’m happy for you to add / subtract as you see fit!

1. The A453 to be ‘dualled’ from the M1 at Junction 24 to Clifton Bridge.

2. Work starting on The Broad Marsh Centre – and only finishing when the new owners at CSC have run out of cheques – £450m should cover it. Ridding us of the Patio Door entrance from the stain would be a really nice, early pressie.

3. Work not starting on the Victoria Centre – well not until c.2020

4. Some sort of World Class offer being introduced at Nottingham Castle. Ideally based around Robin Hood. But joined up thinking with The Trip, BroadMarsh, The People’s College site, Castle and Castle Gate all being a part of something big.

5. A ‘new’ Specsavers / Speedo / Experian or Capital One. Someone who can bring jobs to the young people of the City. We need jobs generally, but our young people need a step up too.

6. Work starting on the tramlines 2 & 3. After Xmas ideally.

7. An announcement that the HS2 Station will be close to the A52 / M1 junction (this rather assumes the HS2 line will proceed)…

8. An announcement that the Nottingham – St. Pancras line could be electrified in the short term.

9. Some money from central Government for investment in Education in the City – schools and colleges have slipped back.

10. A pair of Paul Smith stripey socks…

I hope this doesn’t sound greedy Santa? Could you sort?