The ribbon has been cut and the doors opened at the “crowning glory” of Mansfield District Council’s town centre regeneration vision - Queen’s Place.
Mayor Tony Egginton did the honours with the scissors at the landmark eco-friendly complex, which has been designed as a natural pathway for commuters, connecting Mansfield’s new bus and train stations with the town centre.
Queen’s Place creates two new retail units and six offices on Queen Street between the brand new transport interchange and the market square.
It is hoped the offices will help to address the shortage of high quality office space, while the retail units will provide two of the most visible window spaces and frequented locations in town with a daily footfall of around 13,000 – more than East Midlands Airport.
It is not yet known which national chains will look to move into the £2.4m development, but companies such as Starbucks and Costa Coffee are already being mooted as possibilities.
Mayor Egginton told Chad: “it is hard to imagine what this part of Mansfield was like 15 or so years ago. We have created a gateway for the 13,000 people who travel through each day.
“It represents the best in commitment from a local authority to turn a regeneration project into a reality.”
The iconic landmark also sets a new standard for buildings in the town centre, with an A-rating for energy-efficiency and an expected excellent BREEAM rating, offering occupants exceptionally low running costs.
Head of regeneration Mike Robinson said: “We set out a vision to improve the look, feel and offer in Mansfield. We have done just that. Queen’s Place is the crowning glory in our regeneration strategy.
“We want to make the town centre the very best it can be. In the last decade, we’ve renovated the historic area, we’ve helped to deliver a £9m state of the art transport interchange, we’ve made space for a new shopping and restaurant area at Stockwell Gate North and we’ve improved the public realm.
“Now, in Queen’s Place, we’ve delivered an ambitious eco-building that will attract exciting new businesses and retailers.”
The development, the first new commercial build in Mansfield for a decade, has also been welcomed by business leaders from the town.
Sarah Nelson from Mansfield BID said: “If we can get the right businesses in here it will help a lot to build the early evening economy and if we can do that then office workers will start staying in town longer and this will contribute towards the overall regeneration of the town.
“We have been working hard to get retailers and private investors to work together to offer what shoppers and visitors want.
“As a result of our combined efforts, Mansfield is a more vibrant, better and safer place to be. Crime is down by 9.6 per cent, footfall is up by 5.5 per cent, spending is up by 7.4 per cent, more new businesses are opening up and our national retail rankings have soared from 135 to 112.”
Coun Kate Allsop, portfolio holder for regeneration at the district council, has been working on the project for eight years, and said its distinctive living roof, complete with homes for birds and bats, has already become a talking point with commuters.
She said: “This building will be the vibrant hub of Mansfield. This is a building that will be talked about - there is nothing like it in the town. It will not only put Mansfield on the map, it will keep Mansfield on the map.
“This is my longest project for the council. I have been involved in this development for eight years and I’m incredibly proud of it.”
The project has also generated nearly half a million pounds for the local construction industry, with a fifth of the contractors involved in the building hailing from Mansfield, including groundworkers, concrete specialists, roofers, aluminium fabricators and electrical engineers.
A further 40 per cent are from the wider Nottinghamshire area. All but three of the 29 suppliers are from Nottinghamshire or just over the border in Derbyshire and Leicestershire.
Michael Ford, managing director of Stag Shopfronts Ltd, which has provided all 70 high-spec windows and doors in the building said: “Queen’s Place has been a challenging and exciting project and has kept our team really busy over the summer.
“It’s been great to work on a landmark building in our home town. To be able to say we helped to design and build Queen’s Place is a real feather in our cap. It’s also our biggest project of late.
“People just haven’t been taking the big projects forward, so Queen’s Place has been a welcome boost to our order books.”
Construction Services Mansfield, Amber Decorators, Electract Ltd, IMS PH Ltd, Med-Clad Contracts Ltd and Northfield Construction have also benefited from the project, which has been managed by Mansell Balfour Beatty.
PICTURED: Construction staff putting the final touches to Queen’s Place.