Mansfield businessmen unveil ambitious plans to breathe life back into town centre

Major plans to breathe new life into Mansfield town centre have been unveiled by a group of businessmen, Chad can reveal.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 1:19 pm

A consortium has approached Mansfield District Council with a masterplan that outlines its proposals to regenerate the area – which includes creating high-quality residential properties for keyworkers at the former Beales building on Queen Street.

Urban Fusion is made up of five directors – with more than 40 years of experience in the housing industry – who have come together to create a vision which they hope will inject life back into Mansfield.

Mitchel Hunt is partnership director for the consortium and he confirmed to Chad this week that he and his colleagues’ aim is to transform disused parts of the town by improving the housing portfolio in the area and ultimately increasing footfall for shops and restaurants in the centre.

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The ambitious plans would see keyworker accommodation brought into Mansfiedl town centre

He says the plans would be fully subsidised at zero cost to the taxpayer and would also provide a £250,000 Covid-19 Recovery Fund to go towards social impact projects such as start-up businesses, junior sport funding and other projects – which would be decided by the council.

“I grew up in Mansfield and can see that the town centre is struggling and that something needs to be done,” said the 37-year-old businessman.

"Councils are trying in very difficult circumstances, but we believe this approach complements the council’s aspirations and also brings some much-needed external investment to the area.

"We have a fully-costed proposal to create these keyworker apartments in an initial phased approach, which will regenerate the town centre as a whole.

The proposals could see the old Beale's building transformed into keyworker apartments.

"I’ve worked in social housing and land development for a number of years since leaving the Armed Forces and this is one of many projects we are working on throughout the country but, for me, Mansfield is personal as it is my home town.

"We think this is a massive opportunity to stop the decline of our once-busy town and give it a real chance of flourishing again, at no cost to the council.

"I served in the Parachute Regiment for 11 years, living in community blocks on campus so I have seen first hand how these these keyworker communities can thrive.

"It can create a positive feel for the area, and a community where neighbours live, shop and eat together, and it is a very attractive place for people to live in.”

The plans would see working people living in the town centre

The signature feature of the scheme centres on the construction of 200 high quality two-bedroom keyworker apartments on the site of the old Beale’s building, which Mr Hunt says the council could rent out at 80 per cent of market value.

In addition to the Beale’s scheme, the wide-reaching plans include introducing mixed use areas to the town, the possible relocation of the town’s cinema and further residential properties being constructed in other rundown urban areas.

Mr Hunt told Chad that Urban Fusion believes the project would help to shorten the waiting list for social housing in the area, with keyworkers moving into the new community and freeing up properties for the almost 8,000 people on the council’s social housing waiting lists.

"We think this project will have real social impact and value,” he said.

"Not just in terms of reducing waiting lists for council properties, but by ensuring longevity for the shops and traders currently in the town centre and bringing footfall back into the old market town.

"It is a full-circle approach of placing a professional tenant base back into the town, which could be NHS or other frontline workers, to increase revenues for shops and restaurant and make the area much more attractive for new businesses to come to the town.

“These professional people would be situated in close vicinity of the town centre and are also within a short distance from their place of work, wherever that may be.

"Their proximity to the bus station means they can use public transport so could benefit those without their own vehicle, and would provide great transport links to various parts of the district.

"They will get high quality urban living which they can call home – it’s a forward-thinking housing solution that is future-proofing the town as well as bringing inward investment behind it.

"It’s exactly what Mansfield needs, but this can also be replicated anywhere in the country.

"It delivers regeneration as well as high quality homes to people who need it the most in society, especially after the year we have just had.”

"It is also a great way for the town to invest in its keyworker workforce and is something that they could be proud in delivering if they proceed with Urban Fusion’s plans.”

News of Urban Vision’s vision to transform the area comes as the council is working to develop a town centre masterplan that will ‘future-proof Mansfield district’.

The council’s chief executive Hayley Barsby said ‘private investment’ is ‘extremely welcome’ but said any project requiring ‘a high risk investment of public money must be properly considered’.

"Thanks to £12.3m from the Towns Fund and other funding opportunities that are in the pipeline, we have the potential to bring transformational change in our local economy and respond to the changing needs of residents and visitors,” she said.

"Any planning application or proposal submitted to the authority will be considered within the planning framework and, where appropriate, in line with our Making Mansfield to 2030 strategy and core values of growth, aspiration, wellbeing and place.

"Private investment into the town is extremely welcome, however, any project that requires a high risk investment of public money must be properly considered."

Mansfield’s MP Ben Bradley says he is ‘pleased’ proposals such as this are being submitted.

He said: “Interest in investing in our town is always welcome and, although I wouldn’t comment on the specifics as it is outside of my remit, I am pleased that people are coming forward with ideas for the town centre.”