Nottingham city centre is key for the local economy and its success relies on many different factors – people who live directly in the city, office and other workers who have normally commuted into the city, and a those who visit us for our wide range of leisure and shopping options.
Our vision has always been to make the city centre a great place to live, work and enjoy. We are the economic centre of a travel to work area that includes almost one million people and have the best public transport in the country. Although this is essential to maintaining our regional appeal, it’s also a vital way for Nottingham people to get to where they need to go in an affordable and timely way.
We continue to support a wide range of world class cultural offers for visitors – yes, the Castle re-opening 21st June 2021 will be a massive attraction and boost to the city centre economy, as we have already discussed this afternoon and about which I will go into more detail in answer to a later question, but also the Nottingham Playhouse, The Theatre Royal, Motorpoint Arena, National Justice Museum, Nottingham Contemporary Art Gallery, the Cineworld cinema in the corner house as well as the smaller but much loved Broadway cinema.
The city centre has a wide range of places to eat and drink which if they have outdoor areas are already busy, with others due to join the unlock as indoor eating spaces will be open in a few weeks time. Most recently we have supported this important food and drink and night time economy in the city centre with business grants – with some of the best operators in the country, all now competing to put out chairs and tables in the busiest bits of the city – Hockley, Sneinton Market, Angel Row, Canalside and other sites – all of which are very busy now, having endured the past twelve months of Covid and restrictions.
Our events team and other event providers in the city, mean there is always something on – in the Old Market Square, but also Hockley Hustle, Sneinton Market events, music events at Rock City and other venues – many people come for these events from a distance. A lot of the events reflect the diverse nature of the city – Caribbean Carnival, Pride, Chinese New Year, International Food Markets. Our square is used for markets, but also for celebrations, for solemn occasions, for protest or for just sitting in the sun, it’s a wonderful asset at the heart of the city centre and is a great attraction to those living near and further afield.
The Southern Gateway has various projects which are complete or on the way to being complete, Broadmarsh Carpark, Nottingham College, Castle, Carrington Street heritage improvement, together with a number of new office and accommodation schemes have left the southern part of the city centre unrecognisable.
The Island Quarter development has started in the last few months; together with this and other schemes at the early stages of development, we have some impressive “cranes in the air” live projects that will make the city even more positive to visit – this includes work starting now on the Island Quarter event space and hotel, bringing areas long vacant back into productive use.
We can’t predict the effect that Covid will leave on our city centre, but we do know that people are already returning, and I am confident they will bring a much needed boost to the local economy.