Major announcements last week by Derby City Council have signalled new milestones in the redevelopment plans for the Becketwell area.
Earlier in the week, Deputy Leader Cllr Martin Rawson announced that he would be seeking Cabinet’s approval to invite expressions of interest from leisure operators for a suitable leisure use on Duckworth Square. It could be an international ice rink or it could be another viable leisure use but he said that all options were being kept open.
There has been a significant market failure to deliver regeneration of Duckworth Square. The Council has taken the decision to tackle this head on.
The following questions, based on public feedback, were put to Council officials for answers.
Q. What are the plans for Duckworth Square?
A. On 15 March Cabinet is being asked to approve a number of recommendations on the plans for this development. We are seeking permission to find a commercial operator for a leisure facility – which may or may not be an ice rink. Consultants have done preliminary market analysis and there is interest from major national leisure operators and evidence of demand. Once we sign a long term agreement, the Council would borrow the money to construct the facility. If no leisure operator is found then we will then consider a residential use.
Q. How much will this ice rink cost, what are the repayment terms and can we afford it?
A. We are not certain as yet what leisure use will be viable on Duckworth Square so it is premature to state the cost or detail the repayment terms at this stage. Whatever option we go for, there must be a robust business case to justify the expenditure and any facility must be totally self-funding. It must not rely on a subsidy from the Council.
Q. Did you not put a price of £10m to build the ice rink?
The outline business case for an ice rink estimates construction costs between £8m and £13m and the creation of 250 direct and indirect jobs. Repayment of the construction cost will have to be funded by the operating surplus.
Q. Why was this area not considered for a new swimming pool?
A. A new 50m swimming pool is already being planned for Moorways and is being developed in parallel. This development will diversify the leisure offering in the city. Under the city centre masterplan there are many parts coming together to make the whole and this is but one piece of the jigsaw.
Q. As far as I am aware Derby does not have an ice hockey team and as there is a huge ice rink in Nottingham. How come Derby cannot find the funding for new pools but can get £10million funding for a small niche market?
A. There is no guarantee that Derby will have an ice rink. We do not have funding as yet. We will only borrow money to construct the facility if we are certain that we can generate income from the operating surplus to repay the loan.
Q. Is this not a waste of money? Should you not sort out the Assembly Rooms first?
A. No, it is not a waste of money. For years, the Council has been criticised for the state of the area even though we were not the land owners and now we have taken positive action. Running in parallel with Becketwell regeneration is the redevelopment of the Assembly Rooms which are all part of the City Centre Masterplan and 50 Pledges to take the city forward.
Q. Should you not give priority to Moorways and stop wasting money on Duckworth Square?
A. This is not a waste of money. It is a good investment, because this area is holding back regeneration of the city centre. Development of Moorways and Becketwell are taking place in parallel.
Q. What are the plans for Debenhams building?
A. As soon as we acquire the building, we will be putting it on the market in order to attract a suitable development partner to work with us on a scheme that regenerates the whole area.
Q. Is Debenhams building being demolished?
A. At this point in time we do not know whether the building will remain or be demolished. It largely depends on the developer. The potential uses are leisure, retail or residential or a combination of all.
Q. Are you buying out the United Reformed Church?
A. There is no threat of takeover or demolition of the United Reformed Church on Becketwell Lane. Our interest is only in the Debenhams building.
Q. Why compete with the National Ice Centre in Nottingham?
A. A Derby ice rink would complement not compete with the NIC. In addition capacity audience analysis shows that Derby has four times the catchment area that is required for a successful operation. Many cities the size of Derby operate a successful ice rink.
Q. When will the development be completed?
A. The indicative timetable as at 15 March 2017 is 2019/2020. See timetable below which is contained in the Cabinet Paper on Becketwell Regeneration.
- Derby Ice Rink – The Consultant’s Summary Report
- Cabinet Report on Becketwell Regeneration (15 March 2017)
Published: 14 March 2017