Excitement is building as the long-awaited £4m transformation of Arnold Market nears completion.
The ambitious project, that’s designed to attract independent businesses and create an impressive gateway into the town, marks the biggest investment Arnold has ever received.
At the heart of the project is the new landmark ‘AMP’ building in the market place which has provision for 16 stalls and should be ready to use this spring.
It’s located between the Methodist Church and King George V park – and leaders of Gedling Borough Council want to target independent businesses.
Councillor Michael Payne, the deputy leader of the authority, said it was a chance to “breathe new life into Arnold”.
He said: “It is a key moment and, if people are interested, they should come forward. We, as a council, will be providing advice for people who want to start up – I have always seen this as breathing new life into Arnold.
“The AMP building has been created to be a flexible space and we want it to bring independent businesses here.
“There are ongoing conversations and interest in stalls in the AMP but there are still opportunities for businesses that have maybe started in the pandemic and now want to move into a unit.”
The redevelopment includes a new public area that’s hoped to become a focal point in the town.
Up to £4m has been allocated for the scheme, with funding for the project coming from the council’s capital programme budget and boosted by a successful bid for £1.25m from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership.
Councillor Payne said that the improvements were vital to preserving Arnold’s high street.
“This is personal for me, I used to work as a teenager in the market, and my grandad peeled spuds at Cox’s Fish and Chips shop with my great grandma running it,” he said.
And he added: “The space outside the building is just as important, we still have some amazing Arnold market traders and it is quite right that this will be a great home for them.”
Councillor Payne, who who represents the Redhill ward for Labour, also said Gedling could do much more if awarded more funding from the Government’s Levelling Up funds.
He added: “Imagine what we could do if we had a penny from the Government’s big funds, there’s always more to do.
“The Government has overlooked our town centres and high streets in Gedling borough when allocating billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in the Towns Fund, Future High Street Fund and Levelling Up Fund.
“We’re not asking to be front of the queue – just to be somewhere in the queue with everyone else.
“When comparing with neighbouring authorities, the discrepancy in the way our communities in Gedling borough are being treated is shocking: Ashfield District Council – £68.8m, Broxtowe Borough Council – £21.1m, Mansfield District Council – £12.3m, Newark and Sherwood District Council – £45m.”
The project in Arnold will create around 40 new jobs through business employment and through the construction of the new buildings.
Shoppers in Arnold said they were also looking forward to the improvements.
Pam Middleton, 73, and David Middleton, 75, a retired couple from Bulwell come to Arnold to shop.
And they said they were looking forward to the reopening of the market place.
Mrs Middleton said: “It will look quite nice I think when it’s all done – I think it’s a good idea. It will give the town a boost when we finally get out of Covid.
“I think outdoor markets are dying a little bit but this will do very well, we will come meet friends here.”
Mr Middleton added: “We could do with one in Bulwell, there’s nothing there but charity shops.
“I think it will be a positive for the town; a good market always is for any town.”
Retired Terry Howard, 67, who lives in the town and goes to the Methodist Church next to the AMP, said: “It will bring possibilities but we will have to see how that changes the town.
“I think café culture has come to Arnold recently and that has took over a bit from the market.
“I am a part of Arnold Methodist Church so we are looking forward to it finishing, and to see if we get a knock-on benefit from being next to it.
“As well as market stalls we could do with some big brands that other towns have in there, I think.”
Amy Cunningham, 32, who works at Healing Touch across from the AMP, said: “It will make it look a lot better when I look out of the window at work.
“It feels like it has been going on for a long time, it will be good to see it ready.”
Campaigners spent years working to secure the future of Arnold Market, with The Save Arnold Market group set up to persuade politicians to revitalise the town’s once-thriving asset.
The council hired Maber Architects to design the initial concepts for the redevelopment and worked with students from Nottingham Trent University to help bring the ideas to life.
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