The kids are alright: how Nottingham should evolve to capture the hearts and minds of ‘Generation Z’
14th September 2020
Although recent property development in Nottingham is busier than it has for some years, very little has been heard of how the so-called ‘Generation Z want the city to progress and look like in the next five years.
Nottingham has plenty to attract this younger generation. Firstly, the compact city centre enables crossing by foot in a relatively short space of time. However, it is behind many other destinations in new office, retail and leisure schemes causing Nottingham to be left behind other Core Cities.
Flexibility is key
Nottingham has the second highest proportion of student housing across the whole country, with a vast quantity of offices being converted into student accommodation. But the failure to address the correlation between the office, retail, leisure and residential markets is having a detrimental impact on our City. Having limited office space in the city centre means that less people are going out on their lunch breaks browsing the shops and picking up lunch and this is all having a negative effect on the high street.
Covid-19 pandemic has made it really clear that the office market will face the most drastic changes for over a generation. It is already the catalyst for accelerating flexible working patterns, with companies taking a varied approach on how and where they want their staff to work. A more hybrid office model could be the way forward, with a combination of home working and office time for more collaborative working creating the variety Generation Z wants to see emerge with new working trends.
Opportunity hidden in plain sight
Nottingham has one big opportunity staring it in the face. It is home to the largest brownfield site in any city centre across the UK at the Island Quarter site. This prominent piece of land has seen many failed development attempts and, although plans for a new pavilion on the site as the first phase of the scheme are welcome – perhaps a box park could be the answer to drive footfall to the site and expand the city centre. The old Market Square is another prime site for such an initiative – and the Council has experience of hosting similar temporary venues with its Christmas Market and Summer Beach – why not something a little more semi-permanent?
Concepts such as the Box Park in Shoreditch and Cargo in Bristol are home to a host of independent eateries and shops, the concept is to convert shipping containers. This could be a short-term plan but would enable the sites in Nottingham to gain some interest and increase footfall. Boxpark was a catalyst for regeneration in a deprived area of London and was originally built for the 2012 Olympic games and has gained local support it has become an attraction in its own right. Initiatives such as this allow for entrepreneurs to thrive by selling niche products, bringing a new buzz to the city.
We believe Nottingham City Council should be undertaking research and speaking to local agents to paint a picture as to what the residents would like to see in the city. Whilst we are in a difficult climate, this is further encouragement for schemes to be created to help out the sole traders and start-up businesses.
We need to help regenerate our city and turn towards the future for new ideas – otherwise we are going to get left behind.