Hucknall town centre masterplan unanimously approved by Ashfield District Council cabinet

A masterplan document aimed at breathing ‘new life’ into Hucknall has been unanimously backed by Ashfield District Council’s cabinet.

The wide-ranging, 38-page document, published by the Ashfield Independent administration last autumn, sets out plans to bring more people into the popular town and to improve on its already ‘vibrant’ nightlife.

Its approval follows a four-week consultation where residents were asked to give their views on the initial plans, with a series of amendments made to reflect consultee responses.

The initial paper had outlined plans to bring derelict or disused town centre buildings back to life, either for retail, food and drink, community or residential purposes.

Ashfield District Council cabinet members have unanimously approved the Hucknall town centre masterplan

It also included measures to further develop the town’s popular night-time economy as well as moving away from shutters on high-street stores to open up shop fronts.

However, the authority has now moved away from the shutters plan as it looks to alter its own guidance and policies for traders on shop-front shutters.

The council will instead look to find different ways of making shops more attractive, including whether to work with traders on installing artwork across shutters to give them more vibrancy.

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Within the wider masterplan, however, a transport hub is proposed near the railway station to bring more people into town and make Hucknall more accessible.

This plan, which residents in a consultation asked should include a cafe and public toilets, will form the heart of a £20 million Levelling Up Fund bid due to be submitted to the Government within weeks.

And the council has outlined other measures including creating murals, street art and ‘living walls’ which, alongside the new shutters proposals, it hopes will also make the town more vibrant.

Papers published ahead of the cabinet meeting confirmed the public consultation, which ran for four weeks between April and May, gathered 43 responses from local residents and organisations.

Other improvements suggested by residents included increased accessibility in the town, more signposting to out-of-town facilities, the potential for a ‘heritage trail’ and further green and environmental measures.

After discussing changes to the proposals, cabinet members unanimously backed making the masterplan an official document.

Speaking in the meeting, Coun John Wilmott (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall North, said: “We’ve taken recommendations brought out of the consultation process and that it has identified new opportunities.

“It’s our aim to bring more people into our popular town and to improve the nightlife experience.

“The consultation highlights that we are listening to residents’ concerns.

“I’ve been dreaming of this masterplan since I became a councillor, it’s a dream and it’s one that will come true.”

And speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service last week, Coun Matt Relf (Ash Ind), portfolio holder for regeneration, added: “It’s an ambitious plan for the future of Hucknall which represents the council’s vision of creating a vibrant, thriving town centre.

“It is fantastic to hear that the majority of residents who responded to the consultation were in support of the masterplan as a whole.”

He added the document will be used as a ‘flexible guide’ to shape the future of Hucknall, with councillors not using it as an ‘instruction manual’ on how to regenerate the town.