By Councillor Martin Rawson
Deputy Leader of Derby City Council
The news that Derby city centre is fast becoming a preferred location for new home construction is no accident.
It’s just one of many ways in which the City Centre Masterplan 2030 is seeking to transform Derby into a vibrant place for living, working and leisure.
Having identified a requirement for 1,900 new homes in the city centre by 2030, we have provided the catalyst for developers to enter the city centre housing market.
Breaking the barriers to development financing
Derby City Council has successfully put forward a very strong business case to have the Homes and Communities Agency designate Derby City Centre as a Housing Zone.
This designation includes three key regeneration sites, Castleward, Former DRI and Friar Gate Goods Yard and more than 40 areas covered by the City Centre Living Initiative.
The purpose of a housing zone is to help to unlock brownfield land and provide viable sites for housing developments.
But on top of these developments, there is also a need by developers to overcome the barrier of development financing.
We’ve, therefore, made available a £6.5m Derby City Centre Living Fund to assist owners who wish to convert their vacant/under occupied commercial properties in the city centre to residential accommodation.
Eight months after its launch in March 2016, we are beginning to see it bear fruit with the development of 35 two-bedroom apartments situated on Lodge Lane, Weavers Point, on a previously vacant brownfield site close to the Derby Inner City Ring Road.
Boosting the local economy
This was completed in the summer. Sales have gone so well that the fund has been repaid ahead of schedule.
There are other applications in the pipeline which I will announce in the New Year.
The fund not only provides loans of up to £1m to assist owners but also grants up to £250,000 for projects where there are specific conservation issues. These include costs for design, conservation, sustainability and other issues related to viability for new build schemes on brownfield sites.
With private sector developers constructing more than 1,900 homes in the city centre in the coming years, the city is being transformed into a vibrant location which will have positive knock-on effects such as increased footfall in the commercial areas, improving the night-time economy and reducing the number of vacant buildings.
Successful city centres drive local and national economies and together with other aspects of the City Centre Masterplan 2030, I expect that by 2030 we would have seen the development of at least 1,900 new homes, 4,000 new jobs and an injection of about £3.5bn in private investment.
Change and development takes time. It’s a journey that will see new cultural offerings when we replace the Assembly Rooms with a new performance venue and when we finally break ground to see the construction of a new development in the Becketwell area.
This is a journey not just for the Council and the private sector but the residents and users of this growing city. I invite you all to join us on this exciting journey.