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Bid to revitalise town centre

Posted onPosted on 30th Oct
Bid to revitalise town centre

An ambitious bid to restore the town centre’s past could be key to a prosperous future for Mansfield.

Nottinghamshire County Council and Mansfield Business Improvement District (BID) have developed the project brief, which includes proposals for a major Lottery backed initiative within the Market Place Conservation Areas of the town centre.

Under the proposal, a bid would be made for Townscape Heritage funding to repair and restore some of the town’s most iconic buildings, through grants to support a range of work.

Improvements could include:

•new traditional shop fronts
•bringing empty retail units back into use
•the restoration and uncovering of original features
•creating residential space in redundant parts of buildings
•public realm works, such as improved signage and cleaning the Bentinck Memorial
Around 70 buildings fall within the conservation area and would be entitled to the funding. Building owners would be required to make a contribution to the cost of the work, at a rate yet to be determined.

Heritage interpretation work – which could include a heritage trail, building plaques and digital recordings of local people’s memories of the town centre – will also be included.

A management committee, made up of local authorities, business organisations, schools and colleges would be set-up to work alongside building owners to deliver the schemes.

The management committee would ultimately decide the amount of lottery funding to bid for – which is likely to be between £700,000 and £1m. They would also set the percentage contribution required from property owners.

Heritage consultant and Mansfield-resident, Denis Hill, who the County Council and BID commissioned to carry out the study, identified a wide range of buildings which could benefit from grant-aided restoration as part of the Townscape Heritage programme.

Preliminary discussions have already taken place with the owners of buildings covered by the proposed scheme and have been very encouraging.

Councillor Diana Meale, Chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Economic Development Committee – which funded the study – said: “We believe the proposals will give local people and businesses a lift by helping to put some pride back into the town centre.

“Big infrastructure schemes like the award-winning new Mansfield bus station interchange are helping to deliver greater footfall back into Mansfield but we know more needs to be done to retain that custom.

“Mansfield has some incredible buildings that, for a variety of reasons, have been neglected for too long. However, with some careful TLC, we believe they can once again become the great assets they once were.

“We’ve been greatly encouraged by the initial feedback we have received to the plans from property owners and the business community in the town and we very much look forward to working alongside them to develop these exciting proposals further.”

Sarah Nelson, Manager of Mansfield BID, said: “Mansfield town centre has some breathtaking architecture and historic buildings that this project is hoping to unlock.

“The town centre has made some great strides in the last 12 months, which has been recognised nationally through our nomination in the Great British High Street Awards and the Purple Flag Award, recognising excellence in our evening economy.

“If this bid is successful, it would further advance Mansfield town centre as an excellent place to shop, live, work and visit.”

Now the brief is complete, it will be formally submitted to Mansfield District Council to take the lottery bid forward.

It’s anticipated a bid for a development grant will be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund next summer, with work on delivering the three-year project expected to commence in April 2017, if it is successful.

Plans are also at an advanced stage to try and secure funding for a second project, concentrated on one flagship building in the town centre, with a bid to the Heritage Enterprise Fund likely in the Spring of 2015.

PICTURE CAPTION (click on link below to download)
Pictured with the Townscape Heritage study document are Sarah Nelson on Mansfield BID, Councillor Joyce Bosnjak, Deputy Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and Denis Hill, the author of the report.