Futuristic plans for £30 million shopping precinct in Hucknall

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A FUTURISTIC proposal to build a £30 million shopping precinct has been revealed as part of a revamped masterplan for Hucknall town centre.

A meeting of the town’s area consultative group was blown away when the incredible plan was discussed during a presentation about the regeneration of Hucknall.

The precinct would sit on the Piggins Croft car park, off Yorke Street.

At its most ambitious, the scheme could see the long-standing car park and its surrounding shops consumed into one major development that would create hundreds of jobs.

The long-term masterplan proposes the whole site could be overhauled with a new, medium-sized supermarket, other business premises and a new grid of streets linking Yorke Street to Watnall Road.

Other options included in the plan are a new health centre, a small block of apartments, a landmark clock tower, a play area for children and even a three-storey car park that would extend on to the roof of the supermarket.

It is hoped the development, which would need the backing of the private sector and major retailers, would become a focal point for the town centre.

Coun John Wilmott (Lab), of Hucknall, who is deputy leader of Ashfield District Council, said: “The masterplan has a tremendous amount of stuff in it. The problem is whether we will ever have the funding for it.

“Officers will be trying to get money for all the schemes.

“The idea for Piggins Croft is to regenerate the whole of the town centre with shops that will draw more customers.

“It is essential we move forward. It’s no good just sitting here and letting things carry on the way they are.

“If the right scheme is put together, it could really revitalise the whole of the town.

“This is all about putting the town in the best possible position when the economy picks up.”

Hucknall’s town-centre manager, Mark Armstrong, believes the Piggins Croft scheme is crucial.

“It would be a massive thing for the town and we are really hopeful we can pull it off,” Mr Armstrong told the Dispatch.

“There is interest from major retailers. We can’t reveal who they are because the project is in its infancy. But we are pushing forward.

“We want to make sure it goes ahead. We need something at that end of town. We have businesses such as Wilkinson and B&M Bargains, but we cannot really see them from High Street.

“In discussions with businesses and groups, they are very positive about the plan.

“We are not just sitting here on our hands and doing nothing. Tesco and other major retailers are a big draw at the bottom end of the town and we want things to draw shoppers up to the other end, near Market Place, and to some of the excellent shops we’ve got there and in between.

“The aim isn’t for a big trader to come in and monopolise things. It has got to complement the small, independent traders. This is an attempt to increase footfall dramatically.

“Some major retailers plan their new shops two years in advance. That’s why we are doing this work now. We want to hit the ground running.”

The masterplan, which was commissioned by Ashfield Council, has been created by the private organisation, Urbanism Environment and Design (URBED), of Manchester.

It covers the whole town centre and also focuses on transport links to the town’s main train and tram station, leisure opportunities, pubs and the overall appearance of Hucknall.

The masterplan is unlikely to move forward until a final decision is made on plans for an inner bypass and part-pedestrianisation of High Street. These have been delayed by fuinding cuts and a firm decision is not likely until November (SEE PAGE 11).

However Coun Wilmott believes the regeneration masterplan — and particularly the Piggins Croft ambition — would work in tandem or without the the inner bypass.

The masterplan has also received the backing of the town’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, who is behind the recent Heart Of Hucknall campaign to recognise the value of small shops and businesses in the town.

Mr Spencer said: “Anything that can generate the High Street has to be taken seriously and supported.”