Hopes for 'ghost town' Nottinghamshire shopping precinct as £20 million funding approved

Just Delicious manager Lorna Needham pictured behind the counter wearing a black apron
-Credit: (Image: Nottingham Post/Mia Jimenez)

Businesses in a "ghost town" Nottinghamshire shopping precinct are hopeful of changes including better facilities and shop upgrades as £20 million for the area is officially approved. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in his March budget that £20 million would be invested in Carlton from the Government's towns fund project, which sees a 'town board' being set up to decide how money should be spent over the next decade.

Gedling Borough Council has now officially accepted the funding and its chief executive will appoint members of the Carlton Town Board to decide how money should be used. Among those hoping for a slice of the funding are shop owners in Carlton Square, long described as a forgotten precinct amid issues including empty shops and broken paving.

Carlton Square in Gedling was the subject of a failed Levelling Up Fund bid in 2021, though £350,000 of funding from a local enterprise partnership was then used to redevelop its car park. That money, alongside £100,000 from the council, was also spent on CCTV equipment and a new pedestrian route to the shopping centre from Burton Road.

Do you still use cash in shops, cafés and restaurants? Let us know here

The shopping precinct itself is privately run by Waypoint Asset Management, with the company having submitted plans in November to provide new shops fronts and street furniture alongside better lighting and landscaping. The company said at the time that the scheme still needed to be finalised and the status of the planning application is described as "unknown" on Gedling Borough Council's website.

Business owners on the square now hope the acceptance of the £20 million funding will be the start of long-awaited improvements. Nothing has yet been confirmed on how the funding will be used given that such decisions will rest entirely with the town board.

Yet with frustration having being voiced about Carlton Square for years, some believe it should be a priority for the investment, though the council would have to work with Waypoint Asset Management on any scheme. Some were sceptical that it would make a difference, with Just Delicious manager Lorna Needham saying: "I don't believe the council are thinking about what we need or want, it's about what they want and what can make them money."

A general view of the Carlton Square shopping precinct in Carlton, Nottinghamshire
A general view of the Carlton Square shopping precinct in Carlton, Nottinghamshire -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

Yet others were more hopeful, with Second Glance charity shop volunteer Julie Hall saying travel connections to the square were good and that investment was needed simply to get people to stay there. The volunteer said: "Travel is already quite good, the connections to the city are the 25 or 27 bus and they come pretty much every five minutes. I think we need more benches in the square so people feel they can come here more."

Steph Thompson, the manager of Second Glace, said: "There definitely should be more money put into the square. They need to redo the pavements. More lampposts are needed because it gets so dark at night nothing is visible."

As well as accepting the £20 million funding, Gedling Borough Council will also start a public consultation to inform the preparation of the 10 year plan for Carlton. Clifton in Nottingham is currently going through the same process, with pastor of the Hope Church, Stephen Hackney, leading the board deciding how £20 million should be spent there.