There has been a substantial amount of interest by developers in the former Debenhams building on Victoria Street which comes as work starts to acquire an operator for an ice rink on Duckworth Square.

The Council’s strategic property advisors, Cushman and Wakefield which is managing the sale of the property, say expressions of interest have been received from a wide range of specialist developers and investors across the East Midlands region as well as national and international attention to the development opportunity.

A shortlisting is underway and a decision on who will be the successful bidder will be known in the winter.

The building and associated properties with a footprint of about 110,000 square feet (10,200 square meters) was bought by the Council in March 2017 and immediately put on the market with a view to regenerating this area which fell in decline decades ago.

Deputy leader of the Council, Martin Rawson, who has responsibility for regeneration and economy says that while the Council does not wish to be prescriptive on the type of development, it is open to incremental change and he anticipates a mix of uses including retail, commercial, residential and leisure.

“The decision for the Council to intervene in this area following years of market failure in order to remove barriers to development is the right thing to do. We’re seeing this with the incoming expressions of interest from quality developers and investors, who are all bringing some exciting visions to rejuvenate this area. I expect a recommendation to come forward in the winter for a Cabinet decision early in the New Year,” says Cllr Rawson.

Describing the sale of this building as a “very exciting mixed-use development opportunity in the heart of Derby”, Associate Director of Cushman and Wakefield Liam Davies says he it “will act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Becketwell area.”

At the same time, the procurement process for an operator for an ice-rink on neighbouring Duckworth Square is underway.

An outcome will be known later this year and if the procurement is successful planning permission and construction are expected to start in 2018, according to the indicative timetable made public earlier this year.

The Becketwell area fell into decline after Duckworth Square Shopping Centre closed and Debenhams relocated. The private sector owners made several unsuccessful attempts to regenerate the area but there were underlying structural issues which the Council decided to deal with in order to make the area ‘investor-friendly’.

In 2014, the Council started a programme to regenerate the area which involved the purchase of Duckworth Square, the former Debenhams building and five other properties. The programme remains on schedule for redevelopment with completion in 2020/21.

Funding for the Becketwell project includes £4million 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.