The war of words began on Facebook after the Chad asked readers for their views after a picture, describing how the former department store Beales, was to become a civic hub and the Queen’s Street car park a Covid memorial park, had been posted.
Around 200 people aired their opinions, offering improvement ideas with everything from bringing in more shops, to designer retail outlets, and larger national chains, to restaurants, internet cafes, children’s entertainment, ice rink and even a ballroom.
Now, mayor of Mansfield Andy Abrahams has said: “While Beales is a key site in a prominent location, its large size means it was unlikely to be of interest to many private developers and without the council’s intervention it risked being left derelict.
"The council has shown initiative and ambition in acquiring it for redevelopment for the benefit of the town centre, our residents, businesses and visitors.
“The council plans to create a multi-agency hub with public, educational, enterprise, health and wellbeing services, alongside spaces for private sector occupiers such as food and drink outlets.
"This will not only improve the appearance of the area, but provide customers with easier access to a wide range of public services and drive new footfall into the town centre.
"We hope this will provide confidence to private sector investors and result in investment in areas such as retail, leisure, food and drink and town centre living accommodation.
“The Mansfield Connect project forms part of our Town Centre Masterplan and links to projects such as the private investment in the hotel and leisure development at Stockwell Gate, the urban greening proposals to improve the environment, and the recent renovation of the Old Town Hall. More improvement schemes are likely to be proposed in the near future.
“While the council has a strong role to play in terms of leading town centre regeneration, unfortunately it has very little, if any, control over what retailers decide to locate to the town centre.
"This is down to the market and factors such as demographic breakdown, catchment size and the potential rate of return for retailers.”