At a meeting of the Derby City Council planning committee last week, councillors voted unanimously in favour of the major £200m Becketwell scheme, with developers St James Securities being given the green light for their proposals.

With outline planning consented, the Leeds-based company will now start to work-up plans for the phase one 11-storey apartment building, with a detailed reserved matters planning application set to be submitted in late Spring.

In December St James Securities submitted scaled-back plans for the residential element of the scheme, which will be located on the site of the former Debenhams store on Victoria Street.

The original plan was to create 342 Build to Rent apartments in two buildings, the tallest of which would extend up to 19 storeys in height and contain 246 apartments, with 96 apartments in a second, smaller building.

The new plan sees the larger building reduced to approximately 224 apartments over a total of 11 storeys. The second smaller building fronting Green Lane and Victoria Street will be ground plus 4 storeys and will be developed separately.

A new multi-purpose public square on the site of the current United Reformed Church remains the centrepiece of the development and will be delivered as part of phase one.

The new home for the Central United Reformed Church, in Stuart House on Green Lane, is set to open in May.

The rest of the submitted planning application includes a range of other complementary uses of the site including up to 25,000 sq m of new grade A offices, an innovation centre,  and a multi-storey car park with a smaller more intimate courtyard public square.

Work on the demolition of the former Debenhams building is currently underway, with construction work on the first phase of development set to commence in 2020.

The regeneration of the Becketwell area of the city is expected to bring numerous benefits to the city, including a repopulation of both office workers and residents to the city centre which will help boost activity outside of traditional retail hours.

It is also hoped that the substantial levels of investment proposed at Becketwell will provide confidence for further new investment in surrounding areas of the city centre.

Commenting on the planning committee decision, Oliver Quarmby, managing director of St James Securities, said:

“We’re obviously delighted at the outcome; a unanimous decision is vindication of the scheme.

“We’ve been working for two years on the scheme and to get a decision like that from the planning committee is superb – takes the scheme from being ambition and aspiration to reality and that’s where we’ll go tomorrow morning to take the scheme to the next level.”

A report, prepared by the city council’s planning department ahead of last night’s meeting had recommended the scheme for approval, stating that:

“There is a clear and compelling need to comprehensively regenerate Becketwell and the scheme has the potential to secure a multitude of benefits.

“They include the regeneration of a long-term derelict site that currently has a negative impact on the economy and townscape of the city centre, acting as a catalyst to wider improvement of the area.

“The overall public benefits of the proposal decisively outweigh the identified ‘less than substantial harm’ to the identified heritage assets.”

Funding for the Becketwell project includes £8.1 million in Local Growth Fund investment from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership; the private sector-led partnership of business, local authorities, skills and training providers, and community and voluntary services which works to promote economic and jobs growth across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

St James Securities have completed many successful projects of this scale, including St Paul’s Place in Sheffield and the award-winning Round Foundry in Leeds.