Planning goes in for ground-breaking ‘UK first’ development

by Francesca

CONTEMPORARY interpretations of Victorian railway arches and a stunning atrium are among the key features of the latest phase of the groundbreaking The Island Quarter development in Nottingham.

Proposals for a ground-breaking multi-million ‘cohesive use’ scheme designed by Jestico+Whiles, feature a combination of hotels, co-working space, apartments, green public realm and leisure facilities.

The latest phase – which is the flagship of Conygar’s The Island Quarter development – has been hailed as a ‘UK first’ which leads the way in terms of sustainability, innovation and engagement with nature and green space in a post-Covid world.

The ambitious plans submitted to Nottingham City Council today (4 January) include a 223-room hotel, 247 residential apartments and an extensive food and beverage area featuring a stunning bar and busy forum for people to meet.

James Dilley, director at architect Jestico+Whiles, said: “This design truly blends with Canal Turn and its surroundings. It is about place making, focused on a spirit of community, conviviality and collaboration. The design we have brought forward really reflects the synergy of uses that the wider scheme will create, and we hope will create a ripple effect across the entire site and across Nottingham itself.

“This building is inspired by the rich and layered context of The Island Quarter, respecting and referencing its centuries of heritage while creating something entirely new. This isn’t helicopter architecture – we aren’t just dropping something in and hoping it works with its surroundings, it is born of its special context.”

Richard Watson, of developer Conygar, said: “The Island Quarter is the biggest city centre regeneration schemes in the UK, and we believe it is vital for the development to bring something outstanding to Nottingham, for which the city and the Midlands can be proud of.

“We are fortunate to have a site in Nottingham with its great heritage and an international reputation – with developments such as this and, among other schemes, the renovation of  Nottingham Castle, we want to ensure it retains its rightful place as the Queen of the Midlands and a core UK city.

“It is an ambitious project – unmatched across the UK. The scheme will raise the profile of Nottingham, so we are working closely with our team of architects and designers to create a lasting legacy and community for Nottingham.”

The first glimpse of the new images highlights such features as large archways, wide open spaces within the hotel areas and a 100m-long atrium to create a light and airy atmosphere for residents and visitors.

The proposal – which also features a luxury day spa and green space for visitors – is believed to be the UK’s first cohesive-use development, incorporating multiple uses within the same flowing space, similar to Roppongi Hills in Tokyo.

Several aspects of the design have been created to meet changing needs anticipated in the aftermath of the pandemic, such as flexible spaces, relaxing community areas and green public realm.

David Jones, director at Axis Planning, which has coordinated all planning-related inputs on the scheme since its inception, said: “This latest phase of the Island Quarter is groundbreaking in a number of ways. The innovative blending of hotel, office and residential space and the distinctive combination of high quality internal and external environments will, I’m sure, generate significant footfall in this soon to be revitalised part of the city”.

“The ground floor provides an extensive, mixed-use food and beverage-led experience incorporating restaurant, bar, forum and atrium space in a way that hasn’t been done before in the UK.

“The mix of linked buildings together with integral and adjacent open spaces provides a fluidity within the development which will be essential in a post-Covid world.  We’re convinced this will create a truly unique experience for people to visit and to stay, live, work and play.

“The scheme will complement future plans for the city, such as the highly anticipated redevelopment of the Broadmarsh. Together, these developments will lead the way for the ambitious Southside regeneration.”

The Island Quarter masterplan, which received outline planning approval in April 2019, has been designed with a full lifecycle of uses, ranging from student housing, office space and community living.

The development will introduce a network of public realm and access routes for pedestrians and cyclists, with green spaces at the heart of the plans.

Operating in tandem with Canal Turn, the opening phase of the scheme, the architecture mirrors the heritage buildings opposite, as well as taking inspiration from the nearby Victorian railway buildings.

Alongside the hotel – which will provide short and long-stay accommodation with city views from a landmark 17-storey building – the proposals feature 3,000 sqm of serviced flexible office space.

The latest phase will also see the creation of significant amounts of landscaped green space in the form of a linear park, creating a clear link through the site from the city centre to the suburbs to the east of the city.

For more information on The Island Quarter, visit

Image Credit: Jestico + Whiles

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