In Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the stories hero, Arthur Dent, finds that a bypass is about to be built through his house. When he remonstrates with the demolition foreman, Mr Prosser, who has come to tear down his home, he is told that he had plenty of time during the public consultancy:

PROSSER: But Mr. Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months!

ARTHUR: Yes, well, as soon as I heard, I went straight round to see them. You hadn’t gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody.

PROSSER: The plans were on display—

ARTHUR: On display? I had to go down to the cellar to find them!

PROSSER: That’s the display department!

ARTHUR: With a flashlight.

PROSSER: The lights had probably gone out.

ARTHUR: So had the stairs.

PROSSER: But you found the notice, didn’t you?

ARTHUR: Yes, I did. It was “on display” in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying, “Beware of the Leopard.”

Now. I’m not saying that the plans for the Square redevelopment were quite so clandestinely kept from view, but for a public consultation, they weren’t exactly very, well, public.

Although briefly mentioned in the Beeston Express, The Nottingham Post didn’t seem to recieve a press release, and it seems that even Councillor Pat Lally didn’t get wind of it until this morning. Perhaps, in this digital age, you can just pop online and have a look for yourself? Err, no. If you want to see the plans in any detail, you’ll need to be sent an email from Henry Boot Developers which will have a PDF file with the details on. How do you get that email? By giving your email address. And you can only do that at, errr, the public consultation (though I’m sure they’d oblige if you directly contact them at plc@henryboot.co.uk ). Naturally, I’ll upload the file when / if I recieve it.

Surely the plans could be have left up in the library over Saturday? Even if this means that the staff from Henry Boot were not in attendance, it could prove to be interesting nonetheless.

But why this shyness? Well, I doubt it’s anything to do with any controversies of the design; but more to do with it’s lack of ambition. Have a look at this:

This is the outline plan. It’s not easy, at first glance to work out what’s going on, so here’s how it looks  when placed in context to other landmarks:

So, a decade of waiting for Beeston to recieve  a facelift it so desperately needs and …well, not a lot is actually being done. We’ll get that bit of Square and the precinct done, but…nothing else. The demolished bus station? The fire station? Wasteland. Remember the Station Street rubble pile that replaced the fine facade of Beeston Lad’s Club, the bombsite look-a-like that made even the building of Tesco seem like a step in the right aethetic direction? Well, it’s crossed the road.

I asked the director of Henry Boot, a smartly-suited young man called James Greenaway, what they’d do about it. ‘We want to get cracking as soon as possible on this first development. We bought the site a decade ago and assumed it would be developed in two, maybe three years. No one wants to see empty units’ . Would they  then develop the wasteland? ‘The Council own that, but of course we’d like to’. I ask why it’s taken so long ‘ We’ve been greatly frustrated in ways we never expected.’

So this seems to be the time scale now. Assuming planning consent is granted, work will begin in Autumn, to tie in with the tram works, and completed, more or less in tandem with the tram, in the spring/ summer of 2014. That would then probably lead to a planning application hitting the council for development of the wasteland in 2015. If the same faffing that has hit this primary development occurs again, we therefore can expect any meaningful completion of a coherant centre of Beeston in, oooooh, around 2025.

Why these delays? Could it be related to the fact rival developers Cushman and Wakefield were bought in as consultants for a large fee to advise on the development. Maybe they were happy to oppose and prevaricate in order to keep raking in the consultancy fees? Any experts in the field of development, please feel free to get in touch.

I will post up any files I get from Henry Boot, and would welcome comment from all parties: this is, after all a public consultancy. I have more info, particularly on the prospective retailers who will be coming in, but that’s a secondary issue right now so will write it up over the weekend. I have paper copies of a couple of the plans and will pass them on to anyone who wants to, and will host the full plans when recieved. Beeston is changing – albeit in a rather underwhelming fashion-be part of it.


  1. Dane says:

    Perhaps I’m being a bit thick, but why demolish the car park if it’s being laid to rest? Apart from being an eyesore it was actually useful? I’d always assumed it was being made into a bus/tram stop and tidied up.
    Does this mean we will lose the shops we have now during development?
    Lastly a request, is it possible you could post decent size pictures somewhere please. I’m viewing via phone and they are difficult to get a sense of perspective at the moment.

    • beestonia says:

      Yep, baffling. The pics are lo-def to get onto WordPress, though I can forward the PDF over when I get it.

    • David Watts says:

      The car park was demolished by NET to make way for the Tram, but it was in a very poor state and would have needed serious remedial work if it had stayed. You may remember that the top floor was shut for ages because of the state of the concrete.

      Henry Boot didn’t tell councillors of the exhibition (apart from the Tory one who is acting as their agent) until last night, when Cllr John Booth emailed us. I suspect that they wanted to avoid the reaction that people have expressed here. We want something far better than they are now proposing. Not to put too fine a point on it their proposals are rubbish.

      It seems to me that Henry Boot have lost interest in the Square. James Greenaway is nice enough but it is his bosses who make the decisions and they have been a nightmare to deal with. As well as this second rate design they are now suggesting hat they will fill it with shops like Poundland, a far cry from Debenhams and M&S who they were talking about previously. They are trying to bully the council into either accepting a less beneficial financial deal or into buying them out for a really inflated price. They have been a nightmare to deal with and I greatly regret the day that the council got into bed with them!


      • Judy S says:

        At a Beeston West CAT meeting on I think 6th December in the Town Hall, it was announced that there was a public meeting being held by Henry Boot in the library on Friday Jan 4th., following on from this it was also published in the Beeston Express of Friday 14th that this meeting was happening. There were councillors present, did they not pass the information on? How can they not have known until last night? Seems that people in the Council do not read The Beeston Express, perhaps if they did they might actually get to know what is going on in Beeston and surrounds and learn the views of the public who are incidentally the VOTERS!

      • David Watts says:

        Judy – sadly no the councillors for Beeston West didn’t pass that message on. You’d have to ask them why not, I can’t answer for them. I’m afraid that as I don’t live in Beeston my local newsagent doesn’t stock the Beeston Express. I do read it when I can, along with the Kimberley and Eastwood Advertiser and the Ilkeston Advertiser which tends to cover Stapleford stories.

  2. Ste T says:

    I don’t understand! I thought they knocked the carpark down to turn it into some kind of tram station?

    • JayKay says:

      I thought that too, isn’t it what Steve Barber et al were refering to as a “transport hub”, would that not mean it’s development will come under NET (& cost 3 times as much as originally claimed!?)

  3. Barbara Phillips says:

    Whoops, you’ve written “development” in the wrong place!

  4. Javid says:

    But I thought the car park was demolished to make way for Soubry Mansions for when she moves here.

  5. The image shown of the new square development looks like the type of thing that would be regretted in a few years time.

    I’d like to see something more in keeping with the other shops on High Road.

    • Dane says:

      Other shops like? Beeston high Road isn’t the nicest place and few shops have the Sq footage to attract anywhere decent.
      We need some big names, what happened to the m&s food or waitrose talk anyway?

    • beestonia says:

      The concept of ‘sustainable, long-term development’ is not a familar one with those who plan such thing. Think how temporal the precinct was in the first place. It makes one almost suspect the huge amounts of money sloshing about when developments are mooted might attract the interest of some less than honourable people.

  6. Tippy says:

    I went to the ‘consultation’ event earlier today and agree the proposals are spectacularly unambitious – they are more like a patch-up of the Square with cladding rather than any kind of integrated redevelopment for Beeston. Where is the vision for Beeston town centre?!

  7. David Cameron - not the PM says:

    God bless you Lord Beestonia. What a brilliant if utterly dispiriting post. I had forgotten the wisdom of “The Hitch-hikers Guide”.
    As I understood the equally smartly attired young woman who was gamely fielding questions when I went in, Henry Boot want to demolish around a couple of dozen of the existing units around the square (though leaving us with Argos; the newsagent; the bank; the bookies and B&M Bargains). As I understand it, as they submit their planning application to Broxtowe Borough Council in the next few weeks they have at this point precisely no firm expression of interest from any retailer about future occupancy in the redeveloped section, (she did mention the possibility of another expensive coffee chain) because of the uncertainty generated by NET and the tram. The much over-used phrase omni-shambles springs to mind!

    Your readers may be interested in an Open Meeting of The Beeston and District Civic Society at Beeston Library, Foster Avenue at 7.00pm on Friday 11th Jan 2013. Very bravely, I feel, Mr Steve Dance, Head of Planning and Building Control for Broxtowe Borough Council is addressing the subject of “Beeston Developments”.

    Hopefully this will give your 743 avid followers an opportunity to voice their concerns. David, a demoralised resident

  8. Steve Barber says:

    As chair of Development Control I shall reserve most of my comments for when the application comes to the committee but I shall say that we had hoped for an ambitious development to compliment the high standard transport hub proposed.

    To clarify a couple of points, although I think David Watts has stated the facts admirably.

    NET need 2/9 ths of the multi-storey car park plus Blockbusters, fags and booze, the shops up to Yorkshire Bank and Styring Street for the transport intechange. They originally proposed to leave the rest of the car park but were persuaded that it would be just as easy to knock it down as shoring up an unstable structure would cost a lot. We at the Council were not keen to spend the £4m+ needed to bring it up to safety standards and when we watched it come down even the engineers were shocked as to its instability, frankly it should have shut years ago. NET have taken temporary posession of the car park site and fire station but it will be returned to the Council once works are complete. This is a valuable plot which could make a nice phase 2 of an ambitious development with a household name store. We need a developer with foresight.

    I have never before heard the rumour that it is for a mansion house for our Member of Parliament but I doubt if that is true. She would need to buy the land from the Council and we would want a lot for it.

  9. David Cameron says:

    It is amazing how much “Oh no not me Guv!” there is around from our elected representatives. It is good to know what they are all AGAINST. Maybe at the Civic Society and Planning Committee Meetings we may hear something of what they are FOR other than pious platitudes.

    • David Watts says:

      I’ve always made it clear that I’m for a high quality redevelopment of Beeston Square. Last time I spoke at the Civic Society I gave an overview of a range of the planning issues affecting Broxtowe and what we hoped to achieve. It was described as a “virtuoso performance” in their newsletter afterwards.

      This article is about a particular planning proposal and I’m not in favour of it so of course my comments here are about what I am against. However if you look at my website (www.davidwatts.org.uk) or blog there is a huge amount there about what I stand for and what I believe in.


      • David says:

        We don’t need a virtuoso performance. The council took the 6 million. The square is a fundamental part of Beeston. You have had a cheap demolition of the car park. Now take some responsibility and fix it. 2003 to now….zero achievement.

  10. I popped in to look at the plans and was as underwhelmed as everyone else seems to have been. Just glad I didn’t specially take time off work to do so. There was so little information available it was a joke to call it a consultation.

  11. Judy S says:

    I asked at the meeting where the plans could be seen after today. People were invited to leave an email address and a pdf will be sent out. Also one HB person said plans can be seen on their architects website, not there as yet have had a look, its Jefferson Sheard of Sheffield. If you go on their site, you can see where the idea of the tacky plastic/glass façade has come from. With all the glass they intend to use when the portico is renovated, there will be a lot of work to keep it clean and keep the pigeons off! The whole thing is a travesty. The Bandstand or raised area is remaining, also the Stump, when I asked why the answer was that they are not responsible for that area, the council is, so if we want a nice open square with a better and larger performing area, a la Nottingham Slab Square, we need to lobby the council. No sign of a clock anywhere either. At a recent CAT meeting councillors said it was not up to them but Henry Boot to decide what happens(to the bandstand). Seems no-one wants to be actually responsible for any of it. Where the tram comes through from the old bus station, there could be further provision for more shops in the 2 ‘green triangular’ areas ‘if the council will give planning permission’. The shops are being demolished from Dainty’s right around to stop at B&M which will be refurbished. There is yet another area also where they need planning permission for more shops, this is shown on the map as a pink area adjacent to the green area. I think we need the council to come out of hiding and hold a public meeting and tell us exactly what is going on here. Lastly, if the plans are passed, the demolition will start in early summer 2013 and be completed by summer 2014, if not then it will stay as it is. Fact. I wonder if any of our elected councillors went to look and ask these questions for themselves? Wilco’s is definitely NOT coming back. The whole of the site from the corner to B&M was for Wilco’s. It will now depend on who wants a shop as to how large the units will be. They are currently in negotiation with Costa Coffee, all the people, (public) when I was there said we don’t want them, we need to retain our independent coffee shops. Another comment that was made by HB was that they need to get prestigious shops in the square to encourage people to GET OFF the tram and not go straight into Nottingham. ‘Nuff said.
    PS Not ONE person was in favour of the tram that I spoke to.

  12. kathz says:

    I’m yet another Beeston resident who couldn’t get to the so-called public consultation because I was at work. The Douglas Adams quotation seems about right.

  13. tamar says:

    Did James Greenaway mention anything about Stumpy? He said, back when we ran the article about it, that the plans for refurbishing the Square didn’t stretch that far – as that part of the plot was all council owned.
    I’m not surprised that the plans are somewhat bits and bobs – as that’s all they have to work with. Beeston planning, currently, is split between fractured projects. I don’t know anything about planning and land redevelopment – but I would have imagined that the ideal would be to streamline projects so that the unveiling of the new Square wouldn’t be set against a backdrop straight out of Mad Max. I’d rather they held off the Square redevelopment until such time as NET see fit to start tinkering with the waste land that languishes, all fat and lazy behind it.
    In the words of a man who knows,

  14. Geo says:

    Totally uninspiring development on the cheap by the looks of it. We needed the multistory car park. Where is the parking now for Beeston? (not Tesco or Sainsburys).

    I am really angry that they are proposing such a bland development. Where do we register an objection? No wonder they were cagey with the plans.

  15. Tina says:

    The developers must really hate Beeston – or simply do not care. What a disappointing redevelopment. My guess is someone is making money out of this whilst Beeston residents are left with something that lacks style, durability and function for the next 20-30 years. How do we stop it?

  16. Carole Wall says:

    How boring and unimaginative…. I bet the residents could do better than that!

  17. Harry says:

    The whole thing is pathetic, from that hideously generic architecture – which should be grounds enough to chuck this out – to the complete absence of any strategic vision. This is 21st century neoliberal Britain. The fundamental problem presumably is that no marque retailer sees enough profit in Beeston to bother, and without it there is no money or ambition to do anything worthwhile. Perhaps in an alternate universe where central planning with a wider set of goals other than big private profits was still taken seriously there might be some solution via public-led investment, justified by the social value in keeping Beeston as a destination. Instead the disinterest of industry and the anaemia local government look to be condemning Beeston town centre to a slow death spiral.

  18. Steve Barber says:

    Geo – we can accept objections when we have an application. When that comes in we shall let you know via this site and everywhere else we can.

    Regarding the car park – we made it a condition that Tesco provide at least 2 hrs unconditional free parking. This was because we knew the multi-storey either needed around £4m spending on it or it had to come down. We haven’t got £4m to spend on one car park in Beeston.

    However, grounds for objection to the Henry Boot development could be lack of parking.

  19. Kate Foale, Labour prospective candidate for Beeston S and Attenboro says:

    As many have already said, seems like a real wasted opportunity. Beeston has waited so long for this to happen, and from the information we do have it lacks both imagination and ambition for the town. Real shame. And I agree – why the coyness?

  20. Clint Eastwood says:

    Can the elected officials not work with Henry Boot to ensure that the plans are ambitious as possible? It seems like Councillors want to distance themselves from the plans.

    • David Watts says:

      Clint – we do meet with Henry Boot on a regular basis. At the meetings we have been trying to get the best design possible. Unfortunately whenever we think we have reached an agreement they have an annoying habit of immediately changing the goalposts significantly. The council do have the ability to bring in urban designers and other specialists to assist on developing plans (and we do so regularly with other developers) but we can’t force people to use the service and HB hve been unwilling to engage with us more constructively.

  21. threeavenues says:

    Reblogged this on CA-VA-LA and commented:
    If you are interested in the developments of Beeston Square, take a look at the plans here (and the subsequent posts about the public meeting held the other week)

  22. Judy S says:

    In 15 minutes it will be 2014! Nothing has happened in the square apart from the bomb site that was Wilco’s.
    Beeston Civic Society has James Greenway of Henry Boot coming to John Clifford School on Friday January 10th 2014 at 7.30 to tell us the latest on the development. By then, from what JG said at a meeting in December at the Library, ‘Bulldozers will be in the square in January’. We hope many of the Beeston residents and maybe some councillors will come along to hear what is happening….or not!
    Please tell as many people as you can to come along on Friday 10th January 2014. John Clifford School, Nether Street. Lots of parking.

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