Levelling Up bid for public sector hub in Mansfield due for submission this month

A bid to transform the derelict former Beales department store into a new town centre home for Mansfield Council is expected to be submitted to the Government within weeks.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 10:33 am
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2022, 10:33 am

The will submit the bid to Whitehall this month as part of its £20 million plans for the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

If the bid is successful, it would see the former department store, on Stockwell Gate and Queen Street, transformed into a new public sector hub.

The council has said it would move services there from its existing Civic Centre headquarters if the plans receive Government backing, while Nottinghamshire Council is also on board with the plans.

Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, outside the former Beales store.

Papers due before the authority’s next overview and scrutiny committee meeting confirm the bid is ‘all but complete’, with additional time being used to ‘finesse the submission’.

The council says a ‘strong strategic and economic case’ has been prepared, alongside what it describes as a “clear financial and delivery plan”.

The town centre hub in Mansfield, if successful, would see the large Beales building – which ceased operations during the pandemic when the retailer went into administrationgiven a facelift.

Masterplan documents published by the council last year confirmed the existing bridge, which connects the Queen Street section of the building to the Four Seasons Shopping Centre, would be demolished.

Mansfield Civic Centre.

This would free up retail space in the busy shopping centre and provide space for the remaining Beales store to be turned into office space for councils and public authorities.

The Department for Work and Pensions, West Nottinghamshire College, Nottingham Trent University, health bodies and community organisations have expressed an interest in taking space in the hub.

Mansfield Council has said the new hub would make public services ‘more accessible to the public’, while also generating footfall into the town centre.

The move would also see the existing Civic Centre site redeveloped, providing a cash boost to the authority.

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Coun Stuart Richardson, district council portfolio holder for regeneration and growth, said: “Moving the council to the town centre and joining forces with other authorities and public sector agencies makes a lot of sense.

“Bringing services together will make them more joined-up, accessible and work better for the public. It will enable our customers to kill two birds with one stone.

“As well as conducting any business they may have in the hub, being in the town centre means they may stay a while, too, and perhaps visit a bank, or do some shopping, or meet friends for lunch, for instance.

“This increase in town centre footfall would be a win-win all round.”

Coun Keith Girling, county council cabinet member for economic development and asset management, has endorsed the Mansfield bid.

He previously said the authority backs the public sector hub, saying: “This approach makes sense as we look to share resources and make council building more multi-functional and include things like conference facilities and, potentially, libraries.”

Coun Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP and Nottinghamshire Council leader, says the Levelling Up agenda – something he says outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘got absolutely right’ – must be fully protected by the next PM.