Partners, businesses and the Mayor have shared their excitement, visions and hope about the latest regeneration project planned in the town.
Last week, Mansfield District Council found out it had been successful in its bid to the Levelling Up Fund and was one of only four projects in Nottinghamshire to be awarded the money. What these funds can be spent on are ring-fenced to regenerate and level up towns and cities across the country.
The newly-awarded £20m will see the former Beales building revitalised into a multi-agency hub – Mansfield Connect – that will house key partners in the district, including the NHS, Vision West Nottinghamshire College and Mansfield CVS. The project is being led and facilitated by the council.
As well as public sector provisions in the building, there will also be the opportunity for private sector spaces available for investment.
Jay Rowlinson, Chief Executive at Mansfield BID, shared his support for the Mansfield Connect project.
He said: “The impact the hub will deliver to our local businesses is two-fold. We will see an increase in footfall in the town centre, by having the one-stop shop for health care, council services and education.
“Also, our businesses will further reap the benefits with the staff and visitors using their eateries, shopping with them for goods and enjoying what the town offers. Bringing a building that has stood empty in a prime location back into use for the public can only be a good thing for our town.”
The Mansfield Connect scheme forms a vital part of the council’s ambitious long-term town centre regeneration plans, and it is hoped the repurposing of the building will then have a knock-on effect, stimulating our local economy and encouraging private-sector investment into the wider Mansfield district.
Vanessa Whitton, Chief Executive of Mansfield CVS explained the project was essential in giving people another reason to come in to the town centre.
She said: “The idea of us all connecting in this project is brilliant, it brings all services in to one place with the view to spread it across the district wider – but we have to start somewhere.
“It is important there is a reason to come to the town centre, if we don’t have that we could lose it. We need to make Mansfield town a place where people want to live, work and socialise, and having this as a focal point will help that.”
The council was successful in being awarded the full bid of £20m for this project during the round two of applications. The major investment announced by the government included an allocation of £1.7 billion to 105 projects from round one of the Levelling Up Fund in 2021– taking the total allocated so far from the fund to £3.8 billion.
David Ainsworth, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust emphasised the multi-agency hub will create aspiration in the next generation.
He said: “I’m delighted for our local community that we have managed to get this funding. It is a brilliant initiative and health is right in the middle of these plans.
“Just down the road, we have also been lucky enough to get at least £20m of funding to build a community diagnostic centre. You can see the regeneration of the Mansfield town both with the levelling up agenda and our new centre. There is a real opportunity to create local jobs for local people and give our children and young people some hope and aspiration for this area.”
Elected Mayor of Mansfield, Andy Abrahams, emphasised residents are at the heart of the project’s ambitions.
He said: “This building will be transformed into a multi-agency hub, and yes, will house the district council, but it will also be home to our partners so we can deliver services for residents in a coordinated and direct way – a one-stop shop.
“The council has a history of bringing old and derelict buildings back to use for the public when private investments have otherwise failed.
“The White Hart Street area sat disused and an eye-sore for multiple years, and now we have been able to fund a new multi-million residential development. The general hospital site was derelict for a quarter of a century, but the council took the site on and created our housing with care provision, now called Town View. Now, here we are, taking proactive action on Beales.
“We are demonstrating civic leadership to take the reins of this failing market building that otherwise would have represented the decay of the town centre.”
Mansfield MP Ben Bradley said: “The truth of the matter is, if we don’t intervene with this kind of funding from local stakeholders it will just be left – it is not a commercially viable building to invest in.
“It’s really important that we bring it back to life with multi-agency use, services, businesses, leisure – all sorts of stuff in the town centre – and reviving Stockwell Gate, which can only be a good thing for the town and regeneration.”
Health and education services as well as spaces for private sector opportunities are also key players in the Mansfield Connect project.
Tom Glynn, Director for Retail Development at Colliers, added: “Public sector leadership in re-purposing challenging large former town centre retail units is essential in the current market.
“Mansfield Connect proposals will create direct new footfall from both staff operating from the building as well as visitors using services which in turn creates private sector confidence and new investment.
“This will be a great stimulus for Mansfield town centre.”
View more on what our partners had to say about the project and what it means for residents here