Memorandum by Nottingham City Council
Nottingham City Council wishes to present the
following evidence to the Committee.
Nottingham is one of the "core cities"
of England with a large, successful and distinctive city centre.
The Council has ambitious regeneration plans and is currently
subject to considerable development pressure involving some of
the biggest redevelopment schemes outside London. However the
quality of many of the schemes coming forward is poor, or at best
just acceptable. This in part reflects the relatively low rental
levels in Nottingham, particularly for offices, and the consequent
pressure on costs. It also reflects a narrow and often inward
looking focus by some developers on single uses, rather than the
mixed use advocated by Government and the local authority. Further
more, the scale of many proposals does not relate well to the
grain of the historic city centre. The quality of design is often
lazy and unadventurous, and the quality of details and materials
frequently poor. This is a major cause of concern to the City
Council, which has put improving the quality of urban design and
new architecture high on its regeneration agenda.
Nottingham has had a productive and valuable
relationship with CABE since its establishment. We have found
CABE to be very open, approachable, non bureaucratic and unstuffy.
It is easy to ring up and get useful advice, and officers are
very ready to come up from London for meetings, site visits, workshops
etc. This support and advice is extremely valuable to cities like
Nottingham, which are dealing with very complex development issues
for which they have only limited in house experience and skills.
It is especially important that CABE is able to give practical
advice based on realistic understanding of the development industry
and the market place. In my experience, their advice is genuinely
appreciated by developer teams, and helps in finding practical
solutions where the local authority and developer have reached
Our experience with CABE has included
1. General advice on our overall approach
to urban design issues and master plans, including the establishment
of a very effective Urban Design Forum.
2. Detailed involvement in the brief and
subsequent planning application for the re-development of the
Broad Marsh shopping centre. This is one of the largest such schemes
in England and CABE rightly identified it as being of national
3. Similar advice on the current application
for a three million square foot scheme of redevelopment of the
4. Attending design review sessions with
developers. These have been particularly useful. I am impressed
with the understanding and insights that the Panel have given
on complex schemes. This has been real added value which has significantly
improved the quality of schemes, in my view.
5. Advice on design competitions including
the specific services of an "enabler" to help run the
international design competition for the Old Market Square, Nottingham's
most important space. This advice and support has been invaluable
and we are confident that a truly excellent scheme will result.
6. Guidance in very high quality publications
and web site, which greatly assist in creating imaginative development
plans and in day to day negotiations with applicants and developers.
Our conclusions are that CABE are a key element
in the overall "Urban Renaissance" strategy and that
it has been very influential and successful in "raising the
game" in architecture and urban design. It is providing real
leadership, which is fundamentally important and highly valued
by the local authorities in the front line.
Assistant Director Planning and Transport
Nottingham City Council.