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Community Benefits from Transformative Nottingham Library Completion

Nottingham had been without a central library since the closure of the Angel Row site during the pandemic in 2020. Rather than re-opening it back up, Nottingham City Council decided to invest in a brand-new £10.5m facility in the Broad Marsh area.

Pick Everard

It was a major element of the city’s Southside regeneration, with plans to include a new ‘green heart’ on the former Broad Marsh site and a green infrastructure network linking Nottingham Castle to the Island Quarter regeneration site.

The new library was to be surrounded by transformed streets, creating fully-pedestrianised areas with planting and seating and a new plaza that would link through the demolished section of a former shopping centre to the Lister Gate area and the city centre beyond.

A key part of the council’s mission was to put children and young people at the heart of the design and wider community impact. FaulknerBrowns was onboarded as project architect, while contractor Morgan Sindall Construction and its fit-out division, Overbury, multi-disciplinary consultancy Pick Everard and M&E consultancy Chord also formed part of the wider team. The project itself was commissioned via Perfect Circle and procured through SCAPE. KPIs were set with Morgan Sindall Construction and SCAPE Consultancy that would ensure there was a sharp focus on building back into the city, with allocated project spend to local Nottinghamshire businesses and the wider Midlands region.

Oliver Hatton, Director at Pick Everard, said: “Our objective with this project was to ensure a close collaboration across the range of management, design and consultative services, to ensure a valued space for the local community, underpinning our ethos of delivering better, together.”

The solution

The new Central Library, which spans three levels, delivered an immersive storytelling room and different creative zones for a range of ages. The dynamic space featured an events area that formed part of a foyer and public cafe, art displays, a gaming area for teenagers, a dedicated children’s library, a teaching area and a bookable 100-person meeting space.

Culture and business were also key pillars of the delivery, with the library acting as a showcase for networking opportunities across the region and beyond.

Ian Bothamely, Contracts Manager at Overbury, said: “Nottingham is ideally located in the UK, sitting at around a two-hour commute from London as well as having close links to the North. With ample exhibition space and meeting rooms that could be used for business presentations and more, it’s a real showcase venue fit for the future, regionally and nationally.

“From a design point of view too, there’s some fantastic creative references including nods to our very own Paul Smith, which helps spark conversations around Nottingham’s culture, and keeps the city’s heritage alive.”

The project prioritised cost-effective, modern techniques and the designs – taking inspiration from Nottingham’s lace-making heritage – utilising carefully-selected materials, such as timber for a natural aesthetic and improved sustainability.

Steve Dickson, Associate Partner at FaulknerBrowns Architects, said: “Our design references, and is influenced by, the city and its surroundings; colours, textures and materials are of Nottingham, giving the interior a sense of place and connection to its environment. The library landscape is also rich in both traditional media and digital media, enabling learning for all.”

Andrew Wood, Managing Director at Overbury, said: “Libraries are an important part of local communities and can be a vital lifeline for many people. This building plays a big part in the future of the city as it undergoes large-scale transformation, and it’s been exciting to see the new library take shape and the interiors have really made the building come alive.

“It was important to ensure the library was a welcoming environment for children and young people to help inspire a love of reading and books in our future generations. The space was designed with them in mind and has been brought to fruition with the help of several local businesses and charitable organisations, delivering real value to the local area.”

The benefits

As part of the social value delivered on the project, Overbury engaged with local charities and schools, including Switch Up, which delivers support to young people in communities affected by crime and violence, as well as Waste Wide Kids, an organisation dedicated to teaching children about waste, recycling and sustainability. Several schools were also invited to tour the library, including Sneinton Primary School.

The organisations were among the first to make use of the 180,000 books available, spanning three levels and suiting a range of curriculums. In total, the project delivered over £2m in social value, with more than 60% of spend achieved with local SMEs, as well as over £62k through non-profit organisations.

Ian added: “One of the initiatives delivered with the library was to support the transition of children from primary school into secondary school. The library is ideally suited in this respect, having been split into different educational zones and activities to suit all ages.

“The facility has also been sustainably designed, so it was fantastic to be able to teach children more about the importance of our environment and making green choices where possible.

“We’re really proud to have helped deliver something that will sit at the heart of the wider Broad Marsh regeneration and make a lasting impact for future generations.”

Client feedback Councillor Pavlos Kotsonis, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Nottingham City Council, said: “The library is fantastic, and we have worked hard with our construction partners to create a state-of-the-art facility. It is a library that residents and visitors of all ages will love, but especially children who are now able to enjoy a fantastic collection of books, an immersive audio-visual storytelling room and plenty of spaces to enjoy reading and take part in fun activities.”

Hannah Trevarthen, the Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, said: “The vision of the city’s new Central Library was a key part of our action plan for the designation as a UNESCO City of Literature. We are delighted that Nottingham’s communities will be welcomed into a world-class, inspirational space open to all ages and participate in a range of activities that reflect the needs of library customers in the 21st century.”

The future

The library will now sit at the heart of the Broad Marsh Green Heart regeneration scheme, which will see the 20-acre site of an old shopping zone converted into a park with trees and ponds.

Pick Everard will act as a multi-disciplinary consultant to the project, with the regeneration area serving as the largest development space in any core city in Europe.

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