Fixing Nottingham: Britain’s Poorest City

It comes as a surprise to many to discover that the place with the lowest earnings in England (before housing and other costs) is Nottingham, with the least disposable income and lowest employment rate amongst working age people. Visiting Nottingham City Centre, it seems thriving compared to example with many northern cities and town, it has a tram, its horrible broadgate centre is being ulled down etc.

Explanations have been given, student population (also applies to Sheffield and Manchester), Underbounded with wealthy suburbs outside (also applies to Leicester and Derby).

When you look at the maps of multiple deprivation in Nottingham you find something shocking, high deprivation in all directions from city centre except the South West (which is the industrial area). Even in leafy Victorian areas, which presumably have high levels of multiple occupancy.

Historically it was a textile town and in post world ward II firms Boot, Raleigh and Players dramtically reduced their workforces. Now the economy is overrepresented in back office low paid business services an ‘Experian Economy’ typified by Experian having their HQ here.

An interesting question to ask is why Nottingham has adjusted less well than Derby and Leicester. In Nottingham the railway in the centre is elevated because of the Trent. In Derby it is at Grade with the station away from the historic core, allowing Derby to become a major railway town and later providing land for growth at Pride Park. Leicester has no Green Belt, allowing growth of distribution and logistics along the M1 at Lutterworth and Coalville. Nottingham is the only east midlands city with a Green Belt and this has led to no major economic or housing growth and expansion has been enormously contentious.

Greater Nottingham has had a shared joint core strategy now somewhat aging. They commissioned AECOM to do a (very good) growth options study, but the LPAS joint consultation did not follow through just spaffing all the SHMA sites out and saying what you think, and no attempt to refine strategic options linking housing, economic growth, transport and infrastructure.

There are several options for extending the tram however with the announcement that HS2 East will terminate at East Midlands Parkway the obvious thing to do is extend Line two (south West) rather than the planned line three (to Toton). This wpuld free capacity for through HS2 trains on conventional Track to Nottingham.

This could be a major growth corridor linked to the East Midlands Freeport/Airport/Radcliffe on Sour Power station. This is a challenging area straddling Leicstershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Having had dealings with some of these I sadly really don’t see the strategic vision, its all about bids. There is a clear case for a ‘Three Cities” startegic plan as HS2 and the planned Ivanhoe line restoration will effectively link their labour markets (and Burton’s) as well as a development Corporation for the Freeport area.

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