So, what’s going on at Broad Marsh?

I meant to write this months ago, when it wasn’t quite so widely known what was going on, but had been reported to councillors at the Development Control (aka planning) committee and a regeneration scrutiny committee I’m on. Now it’s been in the papers and everything, and there’s currently a model on display of the future plans actually within the shopping centre, so go and have a look and have your say! You can also find the information at

The Broad Marsh shopping centre has clearly been on a bit of a downward spiral for the last ten years or so, and is these days in a very sorry state with many vacant shops and many shops at the lower end of the scale. Investment is sorely needed.

Worse, Westfield, who own it, have been slowly acquiring property around the site ready for their expansion plans. The result is they now own the entire city block between Canal Street and Collin Street – and they are keeping almost all of it empty and boarded up. The result is that the walk into town from the railway and bus stations looks derelict and neglected.

Westfield do plan to put some serious money into the site. The question for ages has been when? Now the answer is becoming clear.

They did have planning permission for a major rehaul, but didn’t begin within the standard three years, and so that permission expired. Rather than just allow them to renew it, the Council’s planning people have insisted they up their game and come up with some rather fancy new plans. And that is what is currently on display in the centre and will be coming to Councillors for a decision within the next few months.

In the mean time, since last Autumn, there have been a series of smaller planning applications to make changes around the centre, and work has begun on putting those changes into practice. Although these smaller items fall far short of the hundreds of millions of pounds the major scheme will spend, they are still at a cost of several million, and should make a significant difference. Better still, the developers hope to have them finished by Easter 2012, so we have a clear timeline for these changes.

They are in four steps.

Three of those steps are essentially cosmetic overhauls of the three main entrances. The entrance from the station will be opened up with windows in the currently plain brick walls, a wider entrance and changes to the street. The tunnel from the bus station will be closed off for public use (although it can’t be removed entirely as it is a fire escape from some parts of the centre). The bottle neck that currently happens as people queue at the pedestrian crossing on Collin Street should be sorted out by making the pedestrian gap and the doors much wider.

At the Drury Walk entrance opposite Bridlesmithgate, the current entrance will be taken back almost to the escalators with the space currently occupied by Threshers opened up. Here they will be putting in some double-height stores that are apparently the thing that retailers are demanding the most. They will also be putting windows into the wall currently facing the tram tracks and Nottingham Contemporary.

Similar works are planned at the main entrance near Boots, from Listergate. They will remove the dated canopy and put in plain glass, with a dark black frame around it that apparently looks more modern.

So those are the works to three entrances. All three have planning permission now and are on track to be started soon.

The next thing is the plan for a food court. This will be near the existing Wimpy and got planning permission at committee last week. The shops around it will be opened up and moved back to make the corridor much wider. The wider corridor will have up to 800 seats and tables installed. All of the shops around there will be converted into kitchen use, with counters facing the tables, and in the middle of the tables will be further display kitchens. The idea is to have some sort of “food theatre” – where highly visible cooking goes on and is an attraction in its own right.

At committee I put down a bit of a marker – although it wasn’t really planning issues and so couldn’t be made a condition. But I hope the food court will have at least some outlets dedicated to selling proper healthy food, not just burgers and chips, and I hope that the whole shebang will be using proper china plates and metal knives and forks, as I have seen similar food courts in many places that just generate an enormous amount of waste by using single use paper plates and plastic cutlery.

The three changes around the entrances and the food court should all now be there and open by next Easter. I’m sure we’ll all be watching to see that they keep to time.

The next big change is the planning application that has just gone into the Council that Westfield are currently consulting on, and that is heyuuge. It involves major change to how pretty much the whole of the south side of Nottingham works, relocates some major roads and infrastructure, and radically changes the whole of the Broad Marsh Centre. This, we haven’t decided on yet.

The plan will flatten everything between the current Broad Marsh and Canal Street, and that will all be part of the new centre. Collin Street will close to traffic, and the current car park and bus station will be demolished. Those two bits of infrastructure will be relocated to the far side of the tram bridge and in their space will be thousands of square feet of new shopping centre. In the corner where Ocean currently is will be an enormous anchor department store. Securing a tenant for that will be one of the key things that makes the whole scheme viable. Slightly disappointingly, some of the names being bandied about are stores that are already in Nottingham, like M&S and Debenhams, so attracting them into the new site will just open up other stores elsewhere in the city.

The new centre is planned to be much more open plan. The current centre is entirely enclosed. The new one will be open to the elements, with better views into the site and out of it, and with more nighttime activity including even more restaurant space for the city. The centre is planned to have its own tram stop with good links to the bus station and the best part of 3,000 parking spaces. By the time the new centre is ready, we should have lines 2 and 3 of the tram nearing completion, so there will be a lot of construction going on in the city for the next few years!

Exciting times ahead.

Tweets on 2011-03-25

  • Leaflethog. Sun shining, lovely day. Someone round here's got a bbq going, which seems like brilliant idea. Was sausages for tea anyway! #
  • First dog bite of the season. Happily through layers of leaflet so didn't break skin. #
  • @moviemistakes my computer does that too. #
  • RT @stephenbarker: It must be. The sign says so. << wow. Looks like it needs a LOT of investment. #
  • Ooh, got home at just the right time. We now have a window cleaner! #
  • Window cleaner making very sarcastic remarks about the awful truth: it's five years since they were last done – by him, for previous owner. #
  • @bykimbo egg free fat rascals? (had to google what they were!) #
  • RT @ianvisits: Because everyday needs a picture of a cat yawning while holding a can of beer via reddit #
  • RT @dan_lepard: I'm not familar with "Dan Lepard's no-knead technique" @KaveyF << gets popcorn, settles in #
  • @MadameNottm I did ask but he doesn't. #
  • My bbq lighting skills clearly need practice. Even the firelighters have gone out! #
  • @sarabedford is that legal? #
  • Chasing sausage with tongs and making mental note that that bit of garden isn't as level as it looks. #
  • At this rate I'll just have ruined the neighbour's washing without actually producing a meal. #
  • A sizzle! A definite sizzle! #
  • @DrewCR0 check it's not fizzy first #
  • RT @madeupstats: German mathematicians think about sechs every 10 minutes. #
  • RT @madeupstats: 15% of over-40s think that LOL stands for 'lots of love'. Eg: "Sorry to hear of your husband's death. LOL, Jane #
  • HOTEL BRISTOL CAEN – describes its carpark as "interesting during the day" …! #
  • @ScottyWalks blimey looks like some kind of palace! #
  • RT @kayray: @CoriS @alexfoster #

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Tweets on 2011-03-24

  • "Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire" to get Local Enterprise Zone #budget #
  • @journodave really died or Twitter-died? #
  • New 800 seat food court for Broad Marsh shopping centre, near caves end, approved by planning committee. #
  • Grand Park house plans have rooms labelled "Music Room" and "Orangery." Big enough to need a Plant Room too. #
  • RT @journodave: AFP: La tour Eiffel évacuée à cause d'une alerte à la bombe #
  • RT @ErikPetersen: I am on a walking tour of The Meadows with 18 Mexican mayors. #longstory #
  • RT @qwghlm: RT @scaryduck: Fark's headline for Elizabeth Taylor: Eight weddings and a funeral <<< Well played! #
  • Wondering if you could use QR codes to get WEP codes into smart phones. #
  • @dr_nick router key code #
  • @Ken_Mott you could just copy the text string and paste it into the gizmo? #
  • Oh, good lord, the initials of Big Society are BS. How have I not seen little gem that before?! #
  • @CoriS teh fanmails are awesome 🙂 #
  • Alderaan 5 Day Forecast T-Shirt | SnorgTees #
  • @10anta yes, but I only know from journos on twitter. Meeting another minister here later tho. #
  • @iaindale Google gets it on first result on a site called #

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Do firefighters rescue cats from trees?

According to a press release from Notts Fire and Rescue this week, it looks like they do:

Last year (2010) Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service carried out 70 animal rescues, 51 of which were small animals (consisting of 40 domestic pets, and 11 ‘others’, mainly birds), and 19 were large animals (which applies to farm animals).

It’s part of a news release talking about how the specialist rescue team have undertaken training in rescuing animals – dealing with stressful situations such as farm fires and flooding, corralling animals safely.

Notts FRS also have obtained a “three-quarter size, 250kg training horse” – although regrettably the PR doesn’t include a photo.

It sounds faintly comical to me, but I can easily see that in real life, a spooked 250kg horse would need careful management to stop it injuring itself or others.

Tweets on 2011-03-23

  • @Psythor aaaah, thought that was just me when it did that! #

  • Michael caramel profiteroles. Got eaten before I remembered to photograph them! #
  • No Atlantis is Too Underwater or Too Fictional #
  • Just identified source of "night circulation" errors on solar panel. Its clock was 7 hours slow… #
  • @Psythor @sillypunk yes. Although less smartly if you're not actually going on stage, it's a suits and frocks gig. Formal pics will be taken #
  • @sillypunk @psythor oh, shoes? who cares! Our invites all went big on the solemnity of the occasion but stopped short of dress code. #
  • RT @lordbonkers: Blogged… Zuffar Haq to fight Leicester South He will be a stronger candidate too <<< WHS #
  • How does the Chancellor have the power to change planning law? doesn't it need primary legislation that is actually debated in the HoC? #

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Pudding club: profiteroles with mocha filling

Inspired by Chris Noth’s Kitchen Secrets, this week I made a mini pièce montée / croquembouche – which is a French celebration cake made out of a pile of profiteroles.

To mix things up a bit, I used this profiterole recipe (I did need all the eggs, ignore the comments!) and this mocha custard filling.

I made the profiteroles, filled them, and then made a pile by sticking them to the plate with a caramel made of sugar and sherry.

The learning points from the cooking:

You can make profiteroles in advance, but best fill them on the day.

I need a lot more practice piping.

Profiterole filling needs to be completely lump free if you are to have a hope of getting it through a piping nozzle.

Don’t try and make caramel out of unbleached sugar. If you use white, bleached caster sugar, it’s much easier to see when it is turning into caramel. If you use unbleached sugar, it starts off caramel coloured and you have no idea when it is turning.

Here’s a picture:

Michael caramel profiteroles. Got eaten before I remembered to photograph them!

Tweets on 2011-03-22

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Tweets on 2011-03-21

  • Signing a bucket load of forms ready to stand for election. That came around quickly! #
  • Approximating a char sui marinade with random ingredients I have in house. Ouzo for rice wine, pineapple juice for hoi sin sauce. #
  • Some amazing shots in the Super Moon Flickr Blog post #

  • Oh dear. Making @danlepard's vegan Sherried Apple tart – turns out my tin much bigger than recipe calls for. #
  • How to make a shooter's sandwich | Life and style | #
  • @willhowells you survived your diet, and now you discover McDonalds! Turn back! Repent! #
  • I've put Glee on the other monitor while I do work in this one. Finally catching up to Xmas episode. Wheelchair users must really hate this. #

  • – @documentally Front bottom camera? That's a phrase that… um… needs some work. #
  • Scarlet’s Little Moment of Gay Rights Win #

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No Tesco discussion this week

Bit surprised to read in Saturday’s Nottingham Post that councillors are due to discuss whether there will be a Tesco East Side at Wednesday’s Development Control Committee.

I’ve read the papers for that meeting, and this isn’t due to be discussed.

It is, however, a fascinating agenda. We will be considering a huge variety of different planning applications.

A police warehouse changing to student digs.

The building of a new aerospace hangar at the University of Nottingham. A renovation of a block in the Lace Market – including cleaning the dingy brown bricks to reveal that they are, in fact, red under 40 years of smut.

The demolition of the old MFI buildings on Castle Boulevard and the building of an 800-seat super church.

The change of use in New Basford from a warehouse to a 600-seat banqueting suite, with supporting letters from the local Asian community saying such a facility is desperately needed. (I’m amazed at how small the kitchens can be to turn out 600 covers!)

And if that wasn’t enough, we’re also considering a temporary permission for a derelict patch of land by the tram terminus, to turn it into modern art for a few months:

The piece of art has the working title of “Hill of the Faiths or Fake Trees”. It is proposed that it will comprise three individual structures. Each will be 12 metres high with a structure measuring 4.5 x 4 x 4 metres affixed to the top. The main structure will represent a minaret and three sanctuaries representing a church, a synagogue and a mosque will be affixed to the top. The structures will be constructed from a steel upright encased in an aluminium cast casing, fabricated in four sections to represent the minaret. The sanctuaries will be formed by 75cm diameter aluminium circles fixed together.

Last month’s planning agenda was desperately quiet, with only two planning applications. This month’s is a compensatory giant.

But there’s no Tesco discussion this month!

Tweets on 2011-03-20

  • All those in the how-long-till-new-car-knackered sweepstake, answer is now! Just got rear-ended at junction. #
  • New bumper needed, I guess. Cosmetic damage only, got other guy's details #
  • @MoyseyUK well I'm not going to (although that did happen when it was me to blame in 2004) #
  • RT @dr_nick: Great use of qr codes – today received postcard from Anthony Nolan trust with an update your contact details here qr code =) #
  • RT @BeauBodOr: RT @hexachordal: Woman at the train station pulling along luggage with one working wheel. Case en pointe. #
  • @BeauBodOr @hexachordal wow, ballet puns?! #
  • I'm totes fine, no damage to me at all. #
  • @BeauBodOr My mental pic of you was younger! I haven't got long left – I only reg'ed because us diseased gays aren't allowed to give blood. #
  • @kayray eating is one of life's pleasures! I'd rather have work-in-a-pill #
  • RT @turtlestack: We're at war with France! CORRECTION: We're at war, with France. #punctuationmatters #
  • RT @GaryDelaney: I'm pretty sure that Prof.Brian Cox looks 14% larger than usual today. #

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