Artist impression of New Assembly Rooms design
Artist impression of New Assembly Rooms design

Members of the public and stakeholders are being invited to have their say on the proposed plans to transform the Assembly Rooms into a vibrant new cultural venue in the city centre.

A display of the proposed transformation of the building will take place next week (Tuesday, 14th May) between 10.00am and 6.00pm at the Guildhall Theatre Clubroom off the Market Place, and the public are being encouraged to come and have their say on the proposed designs and also suggest the types of shows, performances, and acts they would like to see in the venue in the future.

The engagement period marks a major milestone in the project to reopen a much-loved venue which has been lost to the city since being closed due to a fire in 2014. The public are being invited to give their views on the emerging designs for the building which will be put forward in a planning application that is expected to be submitted in the summer.

The council appointed Perfect Circle to design the new Assembly Rooms. It has a successful track record of delivering projects across the UK, having delivered the 900-seat Leicester Haymarket Theatre, which had previously been closed for 11 years.

The proposed plans to transform the venue include retaining and enhancing the architectural features of the outside of the building which give it its distinctive look, and which have been praised by Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and local architects alike, while at the same time transforming many of the public areas to maximise space and to ensure it is a venue fit for the 21st century.

The transformation will include creating new commercial and food and beverage units onto the Market Place, as well removing the current ‘fins’ on the first floor of the venue which act as a visual barrier. On the first floor new floor to ceiling glazing will also be installed to draw the public’s eye into the Assembly Rooms and providing those in the bar with views out onto the Market Place – an opportunity for the public to see Derby’s Market Place from a new and uninterrupted angle. There are also proposals for improving the external look of the car park to complement its position between the Market Place and the Silk Mill, and improve facilities for the public too through better internal lighting and enhancing pedestrian access into the site.

Greg Jennings, Director of Development and Regrowth, said:

“We want to encourage the public and stakeholders to give us their views on the emerging designs for the New Assembly Rooms. Our plans do not end with just a physical transformation of the building, as we are also planning to transform how the venue can be used going forward so it is a much more commercially focused asset which will offer fantastic facilities both during the day and night.

“The council will work with players in the entertainment industry to bring an exciting and diverse mix of shows from rock and pop, West-End musicals, to opera, pantomime and kids shows, whilst also offering local arts and cultural groups a community venue too.

“A revitalised Assembly Rooms together with the £11.2m regeneration of the Market Hall into a contemporary, vibrant retail and cultural destination will breathe new life into this part of the city centre and prove a significant draw for those wishing to come and enjoy Derby both during the day and night.”

The plans will see the New Assembly Rooms serve as an entertainment hub for the city centre, providing a multi-functional space for concerts, pantomime, corporate events, conferences, exhibitions, comedy, family / theatre shows, weddings and more.

The Council has chosen to run the new Assembly Rooms in-house through a commercially refocused Derby LIVE. Derby LIVE is the Council’s own award-winning team, highly-experienced in providing events, performances and festivals for the city, across a range of indoor and outdoor spaces.

Derby LIVE will develop and grow its team and operate a more commercial model, prioritising events that attract the largest audiences and to make best use of the maximised space. Investment in commercial expertise will ensure that the venue reaches its full potential and is put to its widest possible use.

The venue is expected to deliver hundreds of events each year that in turn are expected to attract 160,000 visitors to the city centre.

As well as having a say on the emerging designs for the building, the public will also be able to put forward suggestions to representatives of Derby LIVE who will be on hand at the event and keen to hear what types of shows, acts and events they’d like to see in the venue once the transformation is complete.

The council is investing £24m of funding to transform the Assembly Rooms. The Council is to be allocated approximately £4.48million in Local Growth Fund investment – subject to the submission of a detailed business plan – by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership; the private sector-led partnership which promotes economic growth across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. The remainder will be funded without borrowing through the Council.

The plans for the Assembly Rooms and Market Hall are part of the City Centre Masterplan, which aims to create 4,000 jobs, lever £3.5bn of investment and create 1900 new homes by 2030.

There will be a further opportunity for members of the public to come and have their say on the proposals at a second public drop-in session which will take place 22nd May between 9.00am – 5.00pm in the Guildhall Theatre clubroom (entrance located opposite the main entrance to the theatre under the arches), with the plans also available online on the Derby City Council website for people to comment between Monday 13th – Friday 24th May.

Background information:

• The move to transform the existing Assembly Room building has been commended by the Royal Institute of British Architects, as well as local architects, who welcome the preservation and restoration of a building with significant architectural value, locally, regionally and nationally.

• The next steps for the project will be to consider the responses received during the public/stakeholder engagement period before a planning application is submitted in June 2019.

• D2N2 is the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Local Enterprise Partnerships are private sector-led, locally-owned partnerships between business, local authorities, skills and training providers, and community and voluntary organisations. There are 38 LEPs in England. They play a central role in deciding local economic priorities and undertaking activities to drive economic growth and create local jobs. D2N2, established in 2010, is one of the largest LEPs in England, covering an area with a population of more than two million people and with an economic output of over £45billion GVA (Gross Value Added). Its Interim Chief Executive is Sajeeda Rose and its Chair Elizabeth Fagan. D2N2’s target is to support the creation of 55,000 new jobs in D2N2 by 2023. The majority of these jobs will be in the private sector. Its vision is of a more prosperous, better connected, and increasingly resilient and competitive economy. Its purpose is to support and encourage economic growth in the D2N2 region. See website www.d2n2lep.org or www.d2n2growthhub.co.uk

• Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.
That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12billion through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.
Analysis has shown every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.

Further information on Local Enterprise Partnerships:
If you would like some further facts about the Fund, or the wider regeneration work going on across the country, please contact the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government press office by emailing in the first instance to request any additional information you might need.

Some additional key facts:
• There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
• The government has awarded £9.1billion in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
• LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects informed by detailed analysis of the most pressing economic needs in each of their areas, including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.

Midlands Engine key facts:
• The government is committed to making the Midlands an Engine for Growth in the UK, increasing economic growth and improving the quality of life for everyone. The Midlands is home to over 10 million people and over 780,000 businesses. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion.
• Government has awarded £1.9billion in 3 rounds of Growth Deals across the Midlands.
• 8 Enterprise Zones have been established in the Midlands Engine since 2012, and 3 zones have been extended. By March 2016 these had attracted almost £1billion of private investment, and created 85 new businesses and 7,291 jobs.