A Square Deal? More on the ‘development’; Time to get round the table?

A staggering response to the last post, it seems that the majority aren’t happy, either.

Reading your comments,  on here, Facebook and Twitter, it seems you’re not happy for the following reasons:

  • The lack of notice regarding the consultation exhibition.
  • The timing – when most people are stuck at work- of the exhibition.
  • The lack of ambition of the plans
  • The lack of a coherant complete plan for Beeston

The first point is one that didn’t just affect the people of Beeston, but also it’s politicians. It seems that a few were told, but for their own reasons, decided not to flag up this info. Please ask your councillor when they knew, and why they didn’t let you know beforehand. Their details can be found here. It’s also been suggested that some Tory councillors were very aware of this…but decided not to shout about it. Other rumours suggest Beeston West Councillors, both Labour, also knew, but didn’t inform others: hence Pat and Lynda Lally, as well as Steve Barber and Frank Prince (and possibly many more) only found out at the last moment. If you have more info to refute or confirm these rumours, please send in a comment.

The timing is also a moot point, it did seem rather buried, though the exhibition was actually well-attended, according to Henry Boot. Miss it? Well, you can now view the plans here.

The lack of ambition, however, seems to be the issue you’re most disappointed about. I agree, it looks less like a complete renewal and more like a tidying up exercise. The lack of a confirmed anchor store, the retention of most of the Square’s features such as the bandstand and Stumpy, who we have long campaigned to have moved to a more sympathetic site; and the non-return of Wilkos. This isn’t entirely down to Henry Boot, however. They don’t own the land south and north of the Square, so they can’t do much there. Wilkos were offered plenty of option to return, with Henry Boot bending over backwards to secure their return. A large unit was set aside and provision made for a service yard, but wilkos took the money and ran. Anchor stores, such as M&S and Waitrose have been grinding down the rumour mill for a while, and I have it on very good authority that Waitrose were all but signed up. Commercial confidentiality prevents HB from disclosing who they are in talks with, though Costa Coffee are all but confirmed (bad news for the wonderful independant cafes that Beeston boasts). Have HB been so frustrated with planning obfuscation and lack of council support they have shrugged their shoulders, cut their losses and just rehashed the Lace Market tram stop? I really can’t lay too much blame on them if this is so. Again, as with the tram, as with Tesco, the politics of the issue muddy the waters.

This leads onto the last point. We have a fantastic town. The University gives us a constant stream of vitality. We’re soon to have a fast and efficent way to get here from the campus and town. Some of our shops are utterly unique, and we’ve managed to prevent the vile creep  of Everytownism seep in. People like living here, we’re a pretty little town, nicely pedestrinised. We, however, need to sort a lot out. It’s taken over a decade just to get the renovation of one corner off the draughtsman’s desk. This is simply unacceptable.

It’s time to demand an ambitious, coherant, joined up plan. Nothing else will do: it is the only way we can avoid the unsustainable, incongruous mess our town threatens to become. I therefore propose a public meeting, involving local politicians, developers, and, most importantly, the public. Let’s ALL sit down, and thrash out a plan. If no-one else is willing to run it, I will, and most importantly, while the public consultancy is underway (so, within the next fortnight). Whose in? Let me know, and I’ll get cracking pulling together the right people. Email me directly at mattgoold23@hotmail.com.

 

 

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23 thoughts on “A Square Deal? More on the ‘development’; Time to get round the table?

  1. David Hughes says:

    Just had a look at the website with the plans. Correct me I am wrong, but Clinton cards is on the list and the map, and yet they closed several months back. Given that web based information, unlikeprinted material, can be readily updated, what does this say about the level of involvement?

  2. Steve Barber says:

    Incidentally I had an informal conversation without dates with the Conservative Councillor who is promoting this and immediately emailed my Rylands Group. Once I had the date confirmed and some detail I sent out another email but that was only the day before the exhibition. If you want to join my email list let me know steve_barber@ntlworld.com.

  3. I’d be interested in becoming involved. We could have a really great public space if the effort (and money unfortunately) was put into it.

  4. Simon Barton says:

    I’ve been working privately on what I think is a rather fine and fun plan for Beeston, town of my birth, for some time; the character and ambition of which has so far only been hinted at by the goings-on down at Bartons in Chilwell – a Beeston company if ever there was one.

    It’s time for those few, failed people, responsible for the utter disgrace of what has happened around here, to be revealed for what they have done, and then politely, but firmly, moved on. They have been the problem, and as such, certainly won’t be the answer.

    What an adventure we can then have. In the correct spirited hands, this catastrophe is within an ace of being turned entirely on its head, and Beeston and Chilwell returned to be amongst the finest places one would choose to live. Trust me, its not that difficult a task, really.

    Let’s get what’s needed done.

  5. Javid says:

    Doesn’t our MP know a developer or house builder? Perhaps they could help.

  6. David Cameron says:

    As usual Matt a positive and constructive post. Could we not use you as an elected representative at the Town Hall? Why not eschew your hereditary title of Lord Beestonia and –like Tony Benn –take the democratic route?

    Two further thoughts. Planning Committee Chairs past and present are rushing to take up your idea of a public meeting “to get things done”. Lord knows then, what the Planning Department and Planning Committee have been there for over this past decade. I stand to be corrected, but I believe Broxtowe Borough Council flogged the lease to The Square to Henry Boot for a few million quid not so very long ago. What remarkable foresight to lease out the town’s most strategic asset to a private developer.

    The objective of private developers (or Wilkinson’s for that matter) is to generate profit in any way they legally can. It is as natural as tigers having stripes or leopards spots. (The Coalition Government incidentally want our NHS to go the same way).

    As far as I can see Henry Boot find themselves in an unenviable position. They find themselves trying to lease retail space across the road from a new Tesco superstore. Simultaneously they have a tram — universally unwanted by local residents — ploughing its way through Beeston and Chilwell for the greater good (supposedly) of Greater Nottingham, in an area superbly served by highly flexible bus services. NET is compulsorary purchasing a significant chunk of their site, the remainder of which will have the tram trundling through a few yards from shop doors. The adjacent site is a heap of rubble.

    The only upside I can see to this debacle is that some residents — like yourself — born, bred and based in Beeston and Chilwell retain an uncrushable determination to try to salvage something of what was a thriving and coherent town when my family moved here 40 years ago.
    David

  7. David says:

    Agree 100%. The council planning history has got us in this mess. But thet are the first to join a public debate. If they cannot afford to buy back Beeston centre, then frankly they have no teeth in this argument.
    Cheap cladding the existing precinct, which is what the plans show, is not the great redevelopment that the tram was said to bring. If we don’t get the appropriate retailers then Beeston will see further decline. People aren’t going to catch the tram to get to Poundland, just sail on through.

  8. Steve Barber says:

    As David Watts says he regrets the day we got into bed with Henry Boot. This was before I was elected on to the Council and I think before David was.

    The function of Development Control is to look at plans which are submitted to the Council and make decisions. Not everyone likes the decisions reached and they have the right of appeal.

    As far as the tram is concerned, I have always supported it and the only professional opinion poll done showed 2:1 in favour for this line and 3:1 for Clifton. I believe that it will benefit Beeston for reasons specified in the Inspectors report and conclusions following the 7 week public inquiry. No one thought the construction phase would be fun and frankly the contractors could do better, several of us are making that point and looking for positive ways forward.

    But just like in Development Control not everyone agrees all the time.

  9. Joan says:

    The Henry Boot plans that appear to be taking people by surprise on this web site have been publically viewable on the web for some time. I do think that there is considerable lack of vision by HB. However, in fairness I can see that the company has faced considerable difficulties with the seemingly endless delays in getting the tram project moving forward and the lack of realism by some people in the town. Henry Boot is out to make money and not act as a charity for Beeston. The company presumably wishes to develop the Square without losing any more of the existing tenants and needs to attract new tenants. I understand that HB has been looking for tenants. Any retailer with business acumen should be able to see the great potential of this location but sadly in the current climate retailers are able to put today’s caution before tomorrow’s profit. The situation with Wilkinsons is quite extraordinary –This shop was always full of customers and yet this local company seems happy to give up a large and loyal customer base. I do think part of the problem with the development is this obsession with pure retail. Yes – It would be nice to have a Waitrose but times have changed and a lot of shopping is now done online and like everyone I will speak up for the small independent retailers but with the odd exception I never actually find them selling anything I want to buy. What is needed in this location is a venue that will answer the question – Why go to Beeston?

  10. Steve Barber says:

    More the content of the quote.

    • Steve Barber says:

      However, moderator, I have done a bit more reading on Lindbergh and would like to withdraw. I shall find a quote,from a less controversial figure could you please take my post off?

  11. Clint Eastwood says:

    Would like to see an M&S / Waitrose in Beeston it would be good for local jobs.

  12. Pete McKenzie says:

    Steve – do you find it peculiar that Henry Boot have appointed a planning consultancy run by a Broxtowe councillor to handle part of this process for them? It feels a little poorly judged to me and I’m surprised that Beestonia’s not made more of it. This is them:

    http://phoenixplanningltd.com/aboutus.htm

    Also, from your own page of the council website:

    “Steve chairs the Development Control Committee, the Planning Policy Working Group and the Greater Nottingham Joint Planning Advisory Board. He also sits on the Beeston Town Centre Working Group. ”

    Through those various roles, have you not been able to encourage and facilitate Henry Boot to do something a bit more ambitious, perhaps as part of a wider masterplan?

    • Steve Barber says:

      Thanks for this Pete but in Cllr Booth’s case I’m not sure which came first the Cart or the horse. He was elected on to Broxtowe Borough Council when the BNP councillor was deemed to have resigned after six months inactivity. I don’t know of his status before that. He was a Councillor previously but that was well before my time.

      I take the various roles seriously and as a member of the Beeston Town Centre Working Group we devised a masterplan which we published and was intended to be the starting block for Henry Boot. Initially this went well and they suggeted alterations as did others and negotiations proceded. Then came the economic downturn and they at first pulled out of any development. They came back but unfortunately not to the same level of hope as before.

      It is very easy to blame everyone but very difficult to find a solution…..but that’s why I am in politics.

      • Pete McKenzie says:

        Thanks for the reply Steve – I recognise that it’s difficult to get people to do what might be best for everyone, especially when that requires them to take multi million pound gambles. And it can be difficult explaining to the public that councils don’t hold all the power and can’t force people to do everything that you might want them to. Good luck to you.

        In relation to Cllr Booth, according to the Evening Post website, he first left local politics in 1995, before being re-elected in 2009 (with a grand total of 416 votes) after the aforementioned BNP issue. Reading the Linkedin page of his partner in the planning consultancy, their business appears to have been founded in 2011. Whenever it was founded, and whenever Cllr Booth first offered his services as a private consultant in this field, it feels not quite right that he takes payment from people for help in getting them planning permission in the borough in which he serves as an elected member (although the extent to which he serves is also open for debate – according to the council website, he’s not on any committees; perhaps he’s too busy with his business?).

        http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paula-money/23/941/1b6
        http://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=745
        http://www.thisisnottingham.co.uk/Conservative-wins-Brinsley-election/story-12236807-detail/story.html

      • Simon Barton says:

        On the 25th of November 2005 Bartons plc met in private with a single senior Broxtowe planning officer. We revealed to that officer we had plans, and were in a position to, comprehensively redevelop our sprawling Chilwell site for mixed uses. This was after a huge amount of positioning, work and expense at the site.

        The information was otherwise confidential to only a very few people at Bartons.

        Very soon after, we were contacted by the same Mr John Booth as is now apparently acting as consultant with Henry Boot, out of the blue.

        At a meeting, at his request on the 23rd of January 2006, Mr Booth told us of plans he had for a mixed use development of our site, of our site’s strong potential, and of his influence he claimed to have with Broxtowe Borough Council on planning matters.

        We did not choose use his services.

        For the record, ultimately neither did we obtain planning permission for a widely praised scheme, which was a puzzle then as it has remained to this day.

        Simon Barton
        Bartons plc
        Chilwell

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