Broxtowe Borough Council: Reinventing Beeston Town Centre

Broxtowe Borough Council has launched a new mixed-use leisure development in Beeston, Nottingham. The development features an Arc Cinema Complex with plans in place for three new food and drink retail outlets and is aimed at bolstering the visitor economy and night-time economy to encourage people to live and work in Beeston. It is hailed as a model for the post COVID-19 revival of the UK’s town centres for playing its part in “community wealth building".

The challenge

Broxtowe Borough Council has a long-term commitment to reimagine all of the councils’ town centres because of the impact of e-commerce on physical retail. The council developed the Beeston Square regeneration development as part of this commitment. Beeston is a thriving, busy town just outside Nottingham City Centre with a large student population so the challenge was to find a multi-purpose development to boost visitor numbers and support the night-time economy alongside creating some new accommodation.

The solution

Broxtowe Borough Council launched the Beeston Square regeneration development in May 2021 with the official opening of the 700 seat Arc Cinema complex. The next phase of the project will see three new food and drink retail outlets emerge followed by a large-scale 132 apartment residential development alongside. It is served by a tram-bus transport interchange which connects it to both Nottingham city centre and a series of suburbs and communities. 

The Arc Cinema complex is part of Broxtowe Borough Council’s long-term £50 million plan to boost Beeston town centre. Backed with funding from Broxtowe Borough Council, sale of the residential site, and the LEP, the new Beeston Square, in the centre of the town is set to attract more and more people to stay local and support both the visitor and night-time economy.

Beeston Square has been master-planned and designed by Leonard Design Architects whose portfolio includes a number of landmark retail and mixed-use developments in city centres across the UK, including the Heart of the City masterplan in Sheffield and the Sneinton Market project in Nottingham. It has also delivered city developments in Berlin, Copenhagen and Oslo.

Ruth Hyde, CEO of Broxtowe Borough Council, explained: “In the cold light of COVID-19 and climate change, we have thought long and hard about the future of our town centres, both in terms of the short-term support we can secure for our communities and the local economy and in the long-term need to help them recover and evolve but remain attractive. 

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and the important thing is to understand the reality of the challenges our towns face, focus on their particular strengths, and keep a dialogue going with the businesses based in them and the communities who use them about how we can progress. 

“What we have done in Beeston is work very closely with our commercial partners in this project to scope out a development which we believe will not only serve the existing community but attract new visitors and provide real vitality through new residential space.” 

The impact

The development has presented an opportunity for local businesses to invest in Beeston and expand and thrive in a mixed-use centre with a diversity on offer. This can help attract new visitors, support businesses and bolster the economy as well as allow residents to live and work locally. It is expected that once the development is fully operational, over 100 new jobs will be created for local people.

Councillor Greg Marshall, from Broxtowe Borough Council’s project board, said: “It’s fantastic to see these great local businesses investing in Beeston. Our Town Square redevelopment is not only helping to bring new and exciting entertainment and leisure facilities to our town, it’s helping local businesses to expand and thrive, and creating lots of new jobs too.

“This is community wealth building at its best, which has always been one of the most important aims of this project.”

The Beeston square development was recognised at the East Midlands Property Awards, which was held on the 23 September 2021 where it was shortlisted for design and construction awards.

Lessons learned

A key learning from the project has been that whilst consumer behaviour has changed over the last few years, people are still looking for new leisure experiences to enjoy that isn’t just purely based around retail. Embracing this can be key to revitalizing town centres as a place for people to live, work and enjoy.

John Morgan, Director at Leonard Design Architects, said: “The key is to recognise that while consumer behaviour continues to evolve, the desire for leisure experiences continues to grow. What this scheme acknowledges is that whilst you can’t reinvent the past in terms of retail, you can embrace a future which avoids some of the unnecessarily gloomy predictions about the viability of town centres. 

Morgan added: “Broxtowe never veered from the fundamental potential of the location and, therefore, their belief in its viability. What they were willing to do was think differently in terms of how the development was structured, tailoring the core leisure element to a potential end user but being flexible about the residential element provided design coherence was maintained. That flexibility is why we believe this could well become a model for similar town centre revitalisation projects.”


Zulfiqar Darr, Deputy Chief Executive & Section 151 officer at Broxtowe Borough Council and Chair of the Beeston phase 2 re-development board.