Latest News | 4 February 2021

There’s something in the water – and it’s not wildebeest!

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Despite the national lockdown, Derby has started 2021 with a bang, with progress announced on several major developments that are key to the city’s economic future.

Here, in his new monthly column for Marketing Derby, our Press and PR executive Robin Johnson gives his take on January’s news – in particular, an emerging pattern being seen in the city centre office market.

How many of you can remember what Pride Park looked like before it became what it is today?

Of course, I’m talking about the business park itself, not Derby County’s stadium (although it’s so long now since I’ve been to watch a game there, I’m beginning to struggle to remember what that looks like!).

Pride Park, Derby, 2019

I’m sure a number of you will remember when Pride Park really started to take off.

New buildings mushroomed out of the ground at a phenomenal rate of knots – powered by a heady combination of new inward investments and existing city centre-based firms who bought into the idea of swish new offices on this exciting new development.

In terms of the latter, at one point it felt like observing a herd of migrating wildebeest heading for the watering hole, as one after the other, these firms upped sticks from the city centre and headed for Pride Park.

That was quite some time ago now. Today, Pride Park is pretty much full – quite an achievement when you consider that it now covers a million square feet.

The focus has now switched back to the city centre, a place that is undergoing radical change.

And when it comes to demand for city centre offices, there definitely appears to be something in the water – no, it’s not wildebeest!

In January, I reported a story about a company called EVAD announcing it had decided to relocate from Burntwood, near Cannock, in Staffordshire, to Cubo Derby – Staton Young’s swanky serviced office space in the Old Post Office building, in Victoria Street. (Read the full story here.)

Cubo, Derby

Cubo, Derby

It is bringing at least 40 skilled workers to the heart of the city centre.

A one-off, I hear you say. Not according to the investment team here at Marketing Derby, who tell me that they are currently dealing with a number of enquiries from parties who are also interested in moving to the city centre.

So, how can this pivot back to the city centre be explained? Perhaps, it could be the fact that talented workforces favour central locations. Their minds are such that they crave the mental stimulations that a city centre can offer, which cannot readily be found on business parks, such as access to shops, places to eat, attractions and other amenities.

One of the attractions for EVAD in coming to the city centre – and Cubo in particular – was the fact that it is adjacent to Becketwell, the focus of a £200 million regeneration scheme. (Read the full story here.)

Happily, in January, there has been further progress on this exciting mixed-use development, which, incidentally, will feature new office space.

Derby City Council granted developer St James Securities detailed planning permission for the first phase, which involves creating 259 build-to-rent apartments on the site of the former Debenhams.

Becketwell plan

We also reported that it had appointed a contractor to demolish the former Pennine Hotel, which currently stands on part of the development site. Yes, I agree, thank God for that! (Read the full story here.)

Some of you will know that before I joined Marketing Derby, for many years I worked at the Derby Telegraph as business editor.

I used to dread Januarys as they were typically a slow month for business news as it took time for the wheels of commerce to get back in motion after Christmas.

Has it been like that this January? Not a bit of it.

So far, several major stories have broken, all of which show that Derby has started 2021 on the front foot.

We’ve had SmartParc submitting its plans for its 155-acre high-tech food campus on the former Celanese site. (Read the full story here.)

There is also some activity around Infinity Park Derby, with two important new buildings potentially in the pipeline. (Read the full story here.)

There has been some positive news from of our manufacturing heavyweights.

Adjacent to Infinity Park Derby, at its civil aerospace site, Rolls-Royce, despite the trials and tribulations caused by Covid, has successfully run its first engine on its new £90 million testbed. (Read the full story here.)

Rolls-Royce’s testbed

Also in January, Bombardier (now Alstom) revealed it was all systems go for a huge contract to supply Derby-built trains to Egypt, thanks to a £1.7 billion boost from the Government. (Read the full story here.)

So, there really has been plenty going on – and all the signs suggest there is plenty more to come.

Anyway, look after yourselves, have a productive February and I look forward to catching up again next month.

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