Derby City Council is inviting expressions of interest to operate a leisure facility on Duckworth Square in the city centre.

Consultants have recommended that the area is well-suited for an approximate 500-capacity indoor international ice-rink with a 70-station gym and dance/exercise studio. Such an ice rink would cater for individual leisure uses as well as competition ice-skating and ice-hockey teams.

However, the Council will not be closing the door to proposals for alternate viable, long-term alternate leisure uses which would be a best fit and a crowd-drawer for Derby.

Once an agreement is signed, whether for an international ice rink or other leisure use, the successful bidder will have an input into the design of the facility which the Council would construct, subject to further Cabinet approval.

The 5,300 m2 (57,000 ft2) Duckworth Square is part of the Beckwell area of the city which fell into decline following the closure of the Duckworth Square Shopping Centre and the relocation of Debenhams.

We are also purchasing the former Debenhams building and six other properties in the area which we expect to come into the Council property portfolio by the end of the financial year. Initial marketing testing suggests these are suitable for retail and residential uses.

The developments for Duckworth Square and the site of the former Debenhams building are expected to be opened in 2020 generating between about 250 direct and indirect jobs and bring an investment of about £30m.

Deputy Leader of the City Council, Cllr Martin Rawson, who has responsibility for city centre regeneration, said the council is taking the lead to reinvigorate Becketwell into a vibrant leisure, retail and residential area.

The derelict state of the area has blighted the city landscape for decades as successive private sector regeneration efforts were unsuccessful. Our analysis has revealed that their failure has been due to fragmentation of land ownership as well as other factors which have made a totally private-sector led solution unprofitable.

As a City Council our role is to provide the stimulus to aid economic growth and Cabinet therefore decided that we should take the lead to remove the barriers to development. In September 2014 we started a process to consolidate land by purchasing Duckworth Square. In early 2015 we started negotiations to buy another significant parcel of real estate – the former Debenhams building and six other properties on Green Lane and Macklin Street – which we expect to come into our portfolio this financial year.

We are also undertaking critical site preparation work which will then smoothen the path for private sector investment.

Change and development takes time but it just been two and a half years since we started the process by purchasing Duckworth Square and a significant amount of work has taken place during this time which I believe will increase investor confidence and participation.

Other properties being purchased are 36, 46, 48 Green Lane & 12 Macklin Street. Also, part of the main former Debenhams building are 22 & 24 Green Lane.

Maria Bertelli is a Senior Consultant with IPW… Limited said that their work with the Council shows that there is a strong catchment for a successful city centre international ice skating rink for Derby.

Ice rink operators throughout the country have shown a good interest in running the facility and want to invest in Derby. Our model with the Council will ensure a self-sustaining facility that will not call upon Council subsidy to run the facilities.  The city centre location will provide a footfall of between 250,000 to 300,000 people as new annual visitors to the heart of Derby providing a positive regeneration and economic impact for the city, she added.

Based on current projections, it is estimated that a new leisure facility will be opened in 2020 while new residential and retail premises will open on the site of the former Debenhams building in 2021.

Published: Tuesday 7 March