Well, the short answer is that it doesn't. In stark contrast to the LDC figure, a retail report by local surveyors FHP (who have a pretty forensic knowledge of the patch) puts the vacancy rate for Nottingham at less than 12%, adding that there is an "encouraging stability in Nottingham's retail economy". And the Association of Town Centre Management and others have called the LDC figures "fatally flawed", saying the boundaries used to define a town centre have not been updated since 2004.
The biggest discrepancy is due to the LDC including areas which most would simply not recognise as Nottingham's city centre; suburbs such as Alfreton Road, Derby Road, and Sneinton. This skews the figures and paints an inaccurate and misleading picture of Nottingham's retail position.
Of course Nottingham struggles with the same economic circumstances as the rest of the UK. It also has to cope with the aftermath of the sale from Westfield to Capital Shopping Centres of the (truly hideous) Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, which is thankfully now due for redevelopment. CSC has committed to its plans for redeveloping Broadmarsh in its interim results, and there is obviously a significant effect on vacancy figures as many units in Broadmarsh have been emptied in readiness for this excellent advance in regeneration for the city.
CSC chief executive David Fischel is also robust in the city's defence. "Nottingham isn't facing a challenge any different from other UK cities and we're now telling our investors that this is the best city centre redevelopment opportunity in the UK." And better still "Our investment plans are grounded on the belief that Nottingham is a great city and has the potential to be even better."
Now I am a huge fan of the Local Data Company, and of its chief, Matthew Hopkinson, but I would urge them to look again in this instance. Current thinking is to consolidate and concentrate your retail offer. Nottingham has done and is doing this, and that should be recognised in the survey area used. Nottingham may not have been one of the Portas Pilots, but it was already adopting most of her findings before her report was even released.
And the Nottingham people themselves would identify a boundary that reflects that the shops and other amenities (rather a diverse offer, with healthy independents alongside multiples) have been consciously concentrated into a defined city centre; one that is manageable, walkable and on a refreshingly human scale. Pedestrian footfall, car park use and bus use for Nottingham city centre were all up at the end of last year.
The BID is flourishing. Using the wrong criteria and wrong city centre boundaries can only give rise to misleading figures. And it's a bit tough on the likes of Invest In Nottingham which works so hard to present the city as a go-ahead vibrant place.
All in all, there's been a rigorous rebuttal from Nottingham City Council, led from the front by the clarion call in defence of his city by councillor Chapman. Anyone who knows the patch will tell you people stream in from the entire East Midlands and beyond for the shopping experience, particularly strong on high end comparison shopping with all the luxury brands represented (and recent new outlets include Aubin & Wills, Keihl's, Cath Kidston, Patisserie Valerie and Thackerays; with Hugo Boss due to invest a further £1m to open a dirty great store before Christmas).
Of course the "edge of centre places" are very important. But they need different solutions (UKR is hoping to tackle one such edge of centre place in Nottingham in the near future) and they should not be muddled with the city centre itself. The emphasis should be on the word "centre". A city centre should not be muddled with its hinterland. Look again, Matthew, look again.