High-quality homes and brand-new retail offer to breathe new life into Newark Town Centre

Posted on: Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Work to transform the empty former M&S building on Stodman Street in Newark into an attractive hub made up of homes and retail units is nearing its start date.  This ambitious project will breathe new life into the heart of the town when completed.

Stepnell, a well-established complete construction partner with over 150 years’ heritage in the industry, has been appointed to undertake the demolition and mobilisation of the project.

Plans will see the empty building made into an attractive hub made up of 29 high-quality residential homes in the heart of Newark which will provide a new town centre housing offer with a sympathetic but eye-catching and vibrant design.  There will also be two refurbished retail units which will improve Newark’s retail offer with the aim of attracting more people into the town centre.

Matt Lamb, Director of Planning and Growth at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “Like us, our local community care passionately about the health of our town centre and we’re doing all we can to support businesses and find new ways to bring people to the town in challenging times.

“The loss of a town centre Marks and Spencer store left a significant vacant building within the town which was generating little interest from new tenants. This development enables a new approach, bringing a high-quality residential scheme into the town centre for private let and sale, alongside two new ground floor commercial spaces, with smaller footprints to make them more attractive to retailers. The scheme will bring more residents and footfall into the Town Centre, acting as a catalyst for a revitalised and thriving town centre.”

Tom Cartledge, Co-Chair of the Newark Town Board, said: “Everyone wants a town centre that is thriving where living, working, shopping, leisure and enjoyment can all merge together.

“This is an opportunity to transform a large empty building into something that will be hugely beneficial to the health of our high street in the future. Across the country retail in towns and cities is in decline which is why we’ve put this project together to inject new life in the area with the aim to make the heart of Newark a great place to live and shop.

“While Newark performs well compared to the UK average for numbers of vacant town centre retail units, it’s important that we continue to do all we can to attract people. Currently, the average vacancy rate for England Town Centres is 13.9% while Newark equates to 9.54%.

“There are many other projects running alongside the development including Newark Cultural Heart which has already brought people to the town centre through creating exciting events and programmes and the Stodman Street work is an extra step in encouraging more to visit, stay longer and take advantage of the activities and hospitality on offer.”

Tom Sewell, Regional Director at Stepnell, said: “We are proud to be working as a complete construction partner with the council on such a fantastic scheme for the people of Newark. As well as facilitating the demolition and mobilisation works, we will also be making a significant investment back into the local community. Our team at Stepnell will do this via targeted regional spending, employability programmes with local schools and colleges, and sustainability initiatives to reduce our carbon impact throughout our work on the project.

“We understand the power regeneration projects like this have to provide more opportunities for local people and to develop a more vibrant town centre. Our work aims to reflect the same value, so it is a privilege to bring our construction expertise to the development of this new and exciting town hub.”

Despite a vigorous search and engagement process where a long list of national traders had been approached to find a retailer to occupy the store as it is, no one has stepped forward as the current unit is too large for most traders in a town centre the size of Newark.  Cost increases were predicted but will not affect the ability to deliver the project which continues to be supported by government grants.

Work on the site is set to take place in late summer this year. The construction phase is likely to begin around Christmas 2023 with completion in summer 2025.

The Stodman Street development is one of many projects being funded by Newark Towns Board’s successful application to the Government’s Towns Fund initiative.  It is being delivered by Newark and Sherwood District Council whose aim it is to breathe new life in Newark town centre.  Other projects include the £3m restoration of Newark Castle and a £2.1m Cultural Heart project aiming to provide a varied and exciting events programme alongside investments to improve the town centre even further.