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The Meadows shown within Nottinghamshire
|OS grid reference|
|District||City of Nottingham|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||East Midlands|
|UK Parliament||Nottingham South|
The area is close to the River Trent and is connected to West Bridgford in the Borough of Rushcliffe by Trent Bridge and the Wilford Suspension Bridge. The Victoria Embankment runs alongside the River Trent to the south of the Meadows and is home to the Nottingham war memorial and memorial gardens, bandstand and a paddling pool. The ‘Riverside festival’ which attracts people from all over Greater Nottingham is also located here and is held annually in July/August.
The Bridgeway shopping centre is a pedestrianised shopping precinct located in the centre of the Meadows. It houses mainly independent shops and businesses including a newsagents, hair salon, fruit and vegetable store, supermarket, chemist and a bookmakers. The Meadows health centre is also located here. The Bridgeway centre also contains many residential premises built above the shops themselves. Nottingham railway station is approximately five minutes in walking distance from the precinct.
The Meadows is home to Portland leisure centre which underwent extensive refurbishment in 2008. The Meadows library located on Wilford Grove reopened in June 2009 after being closed for several months after benefiting from a lottery grant which had enabled it to be fully refurbished. One of Nottingham City Transport’s two bus depots is located in the area on Bunbury Street. This was originally the horse-drawn tram depot, and still retains the stables and hay lofts associated with this early use. Both of these buildings contribute strongly to the character of the area.
The Meadows was originally a large area of wetland/floodplain which extended from the River Leen to the River Trent. After enclosure, this area was drained and gradually developed for a variety of uses, incorporating terraced housing, public houses, factories, warehouses and public buildings such as libraries and swimming baths.
The terraced housing was constructed mainly for those that worked on the railways and in the factories. Many of these houses were built by the railway company themselves. Historic photographs show the area to be a vibrant community with many fine buildings and good townscape.
The Great Central Railway ran through the area on its route from Nottingham to London and had an intermediate station in the Meadows known as Nottingham Arkwright Street. However, due to the Beeching Report, conducted to assess the cost effectiveness of several railway lines and stations across Britain, the Great Central line along with Arkwright Street station was recommended for closure in 1963. However, the line and station remained open up until 1969 before they were eventually permanently closed.
In 1901, Victoria Embankment, a 1¼ mile long aesthetic masterpiece of Victorian flood defence engineering with a promenade and carriage-way, opened, along with the New Meadows recreation ground. In 1906 the Arts & Crafts style Cricket Pavilion was officially opened along with several new football pitches with the Police Band in attendance. In 1920, Jesse Boot purchased the remainder of the land within the Embankment adjacent to the Trent and then bequeathed it to the citizens of Nottingham in perpetuity for recreational use and memorial. This included the memorial gardens, playing fields, war memorial (foundation stone laid by Prince of Wales 1923), bandstand (1937) and two sports pavilions, all of which survive today, although the City Council are seeking to demolish the bandstand and one of the sports pavilions as part of their flood defence development plans for the area. However, in June 2010, English Heritage registered the Art Deco bandstand as a Grade II listed building, therefore protecting the structure from demolition. The Council are allowing the 1906 Arts and Crafts Cricket Pavilion to fall into disrepair despite the cricket pitches being heavily utilized by the local young Asian community.
In the 1970s, housing in the Meadows was deemed unsuitable by the council and a large part of the Meadows was demolished to make way for a new development of modern council housing. This was an approach common to many local authorities at the time, which saw the dispersal of often tight knit communities, and replacement with public housing projects of variable longevity. The new development was based on the Radburn model of planning which consisted of segregating traffic and pedestrians by constructing cul-de-sacs, feeder roads and underpasses. In 1975, the viaduct carrying the Great Central railway and Arkwright Street station was demolished as the new development started to take shape. Today there is absolutely no trace of any part of the Great Central Railway in the Meadows.
St Saviour’s Church located on Arkwright Walk, opened in 1864 and is one of only a small number of large individual buildings that survived the area's redevelopment in the 1970s. However, the substantial area to the south of Wilford Crescent (East and West), running to the Trent Embankment survives as a reminder of what has been lost. This area has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years, and has won many awards for its residents' street flower displays which are a summer long feature of the area.
As of 2003[update], the Meadows contains 7,870 inhabitants. According to the 2001 census, the population of the Meadows has a high proportion of Mixed, Asian, Asian British, Black and Black British when compared with the national average. 16.3% of residents in the Meadows are aged between 18–24 which is higher than the national average of 8.4%. According to the 2004 ODPM report, the Bridge electoral ward of which the Meadows is a part, has one of the highest rates of children affected by income related poverty in the country. In 2005 Nottingham City LEA announced that approximately 45% of children who attend primary schools in the Meadows are eligible for free school meals. Unfortunately the area suffers from low formal educational attainment as the number of five or more GCSE's at grade C or above is below average in comparison to both the national average and the Nottingham City average. A high proportion of adults do not have any formal qualifications according to the ODPM (2004), and as a result the area has a higher than average rate of unemployment. Data collected by Nottingham City’s benefits department in 2005 shown that 35% of households in Bridge ward were in receipt of Council Tax Benefit and/or Housing Benefit.
Meadows neighbourhood plan
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In 2009, Nottingham City Council announced that it had been allocated a £200 million share of national Round 6 Housing PFI funding to invest in the Meadows. The council had proposed ‘The Meadows Neighbourhood Plan’ which had been developed closely with local residents through open community consultation events and the Community Transformation Working Group, which consisted of representatives from a broad cross-section of the neighbourhood who elected their own Chair. The Meadows Neighbourhood Plan was developed over two years and resulted in a detailed document including: a baseline review highlighting the issues; a vision for the future; option appraisal; consultation and engagement; and detailed descriptions of the preferred plan and options for delivery. The plan was widely publicised and available to view on the Council’s website along with a number of hard copies in public buildings and community groups. An earlier user-friendly vision document had been issued as part of the consultation process.
During the initial stage, the plans involved completely redesigning the New Meadows area by reintroducing the traditional street layout in contrast to the maze of alleyways, subways and cul-de sacs that currently exist since the area was last redeveloped in the 1970‘s. The council anticipated that this would have had a positive impact by reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and providing easy access in and out of the area for the police. The plans also included a new local shopping centre which was to be created by demolishing the current Bridgeway Centre and constructing the new one along a recreated ‘Arkwright Street’ located slightly east of the current shopping area. This had caused concern among some local residents as the new shopping centre would no longer be in the centre of the Meadows, therefore people in the west of the Meadows would have been at a disadvantage. However, in mitigation to these concerns the council had proposed to develop two smaller retail based developments to the south east and south west of the Meadows.
In order to achieve the desired traditional street layout the council planned to ‘turn around’ many houses and demolish many of the unpopular ‘Q’ blocks and replace them with modern energy efficient family homes in reflection of the areas desire to become an eco-friendly neighbourhood.
It is anticipated that this would have built upon the already strong community spirit present in the area. Some residents were concerned however, that some houses and flats would need to be demolished and were worried that after redevelopment there would have been less available residential property than at present. It was also argued that the redevelopment plan would have ultimately lead to the gentrification of the area as the Meadows is surrounded by other major city regeneration schemes such as the Southside and Waterside redevelopment projects as well as being in close proximity to the city centre.
During November 2010, the government announced that as part of its austerity package, the £200 million PFI grant to redevelop the neighbourhood had unfortunately been cancelled. Therefore, it now looks extremely unlikely to see any of the proposed improvements promised to the area materialise for many decades. However, the city council claimed that it intends to stay committed to the project and conducted a review to assess to what extent the loss of funding will affect the local area. Interestingly however, the government has pledged support for the construction of the tram extensions and the redevelopment of Nottingham railway station which is thought to be essential in boosting support for regeneration projects in the southside such as ‘Meadows gateway’. Therefore, the Meadows could potentially still see economic benefits in the near future albeit somewhat limited to what was proposed.
Early in 2012 40 trees were cut down on the historic Queens Walk Promenade (1842) with a potential of 90 trees to go altogether. The central foot/cycle path down the double avenue of lime trees will be removed and have 2 tram lines going down the middle. The Meadows people seem greatly saddened by the loss of this formal linear parkland, dedicated open green space, and the delightful double avenue of healthy lime trees.
In September 2011, Nottingham City Homes (NCH) announced that fifteen of the undesirable 'Q' blocks, many of which are located around the Arkwright Walk area, will be prepared for demolition along with a small number of other properties. This fulfils a small but significant part of the original neighbourhood plan which was ultimately mothballed as NCH propose to develop new family sized housing to replace the demolished properties. Two of the subways in the Meadows have been removed (the Meadows Way underpass which connects Arkwright Walk with Arkwright Street and the underpass which takes Queens Walk under Robin Hood Way; the former will be replaced with a pedestrian crossing while the latter will be developed in accordance with NET Phase Two.
Another important part of the original neighbourhood plan which is being considered by Nottingham City Council is to reinstate the Arkwright Walk/Street link between Nottingham Station and Trent Bridge, which is currently pedestrianised and blocked off close to Bridgeway Shopping Centre. Furthermore, the new link route would likely be reopened to vehicular traffic.
The Meadows is served by several stops of the Nottingham Express Transit system, now that the system's phase two is in operation (25th August 2015). Both line 1, to Beeston and Chilwell, and line 2, to Wilford and Clifton, pass through the Meadows. The stops within the Meadows are:
- Meadows Way East and Victoria Embankment
Nottingham City Transport: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
Trent Barton: Cotgrave Connection, Keyworth Connection, Rushcliffe Mainline, Rushcliffe Villager.
Other services: 9, 19, 90.
- Brigeway Centre, Wilford Grove and Bathley Street
- Bridgeway Centre and Robin Hood Way
- Queens Drive
Nottingham City Transport: Citylink 1.
- Nottingham City Council, UK.
- Nottingham City Transport, UK.
- Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, Nottinghamshire.
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