The former Beales department store in Mansfield was purchased to provide a new multi-agency civic center as part of Mansfield District Council’s long-term town center regeneration plans.
The project – “Mansfield Connect” – will be the new council headquarters and is expected to house a variety of other public, educational, corporate and health and wellness services, as well as spaces for private sector occupants such as food and drink outlets.
Mansfield District Council took the initiative and bought the premises to improve the offering to the Government Leveling Fund (LUF) to help reinvigorate the town center.
Mansfield Connect will be a central part of the offering and would see the board relocate from the Civic Center, with that site being made available for redevelopment.
To date, the Department for Work and Pensions, Nottinghamshire County Council, Vision West Nottinghamshire College, Nottingham Trent University, NHS Health Partners and the CVS Volunteer Coordinator have all expressed interest in get involved in the new center.
In addition to improving public service delivery by providing a range of accessible branches under one roof, it is envisioned that the new hub would generate additional footfall in the city center, which would benefit existing retailers and help boost regeneration, the hub being a catalyst to stimulate private sector investment in the day and night economy of the city center.
The program is part of the council’s broader ambitions for the city, demonstrated by the emerging city center master plan and the wider Mansfield District Council strategies of fostering growth, aspiration, well-being and place .
Executive Mayor Andy Abrahams said: ‘We believe the reallocation of this redundant retail space in Mansfield town center meets all the ambitions of the government leveling fund and by purchasing the building now we believe that this will strengthen the offer of advice.
“Consolidating public services into a downtown space makes so much sense, both for the delivery of those services to our community and for the broader economic benefits to the downtown area. We are doing everything in our power to meet the requirements of the LUF tender criteria so that we can move forward quickly when we are hopefully successful.
“Mansfield really needs this type of ambitious reimagining of its shopping streets into a mixed-use city center if it is to build a bright future and encourage foreign investment. This is a unique opportunity to transform the fortunes and prospects of our city for the better.
The board can submit a MP-backed bid to the LUF for an individual project or package of measures, focusing on capital investment in local infrastructure and building on existing programs supported by the Growth Fund. local and the Cities Fund.
As part of the LUF’s first round, local authorities could seek up to £ 20million in funding, with backing from the local MP, seeing targeted funding to places with the greatest recovery needs economic, regeneration and growth and improvement of transport and connectivity.
Mansfield has been rated a level one in three by the government, which places it among the areas in greatest need.
The board qualified for £ 125,000 in funding to help them draft their LUF offer and improve their chances of success in the next round of offers, which are expected to be announced in the spring by the Department for Leveling Up Housing and Communities.
A Mansfield Connect steering group is guiding the project and the board has engaged project management specialists ARC Partnership to support its initial development, feasibility, costs and design options.
Further support in developing a business case for the program and for the LUF offering was obtained from Partnering Regeneration Development Ltd.
The work will see close collaboration with consultants Allies & Morrison who are working with the council on the new downtown master plan and the Severn Trent Green Salvage Flood Resilience Project.