Culture quarter planned as growth catalyst for UK’s Derby

UK city Derby is promoting a major mixed-use regeneration schemes that will have a city-centre cultural project at its heart.

“We call it Project Assemble, and hopefully the clue is in the title,” said Paul Simpson, chief executive of Derby City Council. He said that the city is seeking a new purpose-built learning theatre and is working in partnership with the University of Derby and Derby Theatre.

“The cultural heart of Derby will open up that part of the city centre and bring it back to life, so we’re looking for investment in that project, which could be a mixed-use development,” Simpson said, explaining that the site is large and and the theatre will only take up a relatively small section of it, “so there is plenty of scope for hotel, retail, office or commercial space and some food and beverage spots too”.  

Although the cultural zone presents an immediate opportunity, Simpson stresses that Derby takes a long-term view of its economic development strategy and relationship with investors. “What investors can look for in a place like Derby is a long-term commitment from the city and a long-term investment opportunity,” Simpson said.

“Derby’s economy is incredibly successful. We have worldwide brands from Rolls Royce, Alstom, Toyota and all the accompanying supply chains that come along with that.” The recent announcement of reinvestment by Rolls Royce’s nuclear submarine division, based in Derby, promises thousands of jobs well into the second half of the next decade.

“We’ve got some of the highest salaries outside of London in terms of paid employment. We’re a fantastic opportunity and we are located right in the heart of the UK, with fantastic road links and a good rail network. You can be in London in an hour and half, and you can get easily into the north of the country. So we’re a really well connected city with a fantastically talented work force,” Simpson said. “So this is an opportunity to invest in the long term, knowing that this economic success is going to continue for the foreseeable future.”