Latest News | 15 July 2021

Panel discussion: What will our future city look like?

Urban Sister Developments Ltd
Pax8 (Formerly Bam Boom Cloud)
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There are a number of businesses and organisations who will be key to shaping the future of the city – and at the Derby Property Summit, some of them got together to discuss their hopes and plans.

Taking part in a panel discussion were Vicky Critchley, chief executive of Bam Boom Cloud, Professor Kamil Omoteso, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at the University of Derby, Ruth Hobbs, director at Urban Sister and Mike Wingfield, of the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust.

Bam Boom Cloud is a global IT firm which earlier this year announced it would establish its headquarters right in the heart of Derby city centre, bringing with it around 100 highly skilled workers.

It followed a deal by Vicky and her husband Brett to buy-out of Cooper Parry IT to create Bam Boom Cloud, which provides cloud-based technology solutions to small and mid-sized businesses.

Derby Arm

The firm, which also has operations in the US, Canada, India and Ireland, has chosen a 6,500 sq ft property in the Wardwick, converting a former nightclub into modern office space.

Vicky said: “We had to think what we needed from an office of the future. We were faced with the quandary of what is an office? What do we need it for?

“It couldn’t be what we had before. It needed to entice people out of their homes and back into the office.

“We have since taken over a fantastic Georgian building – a hybrid space where staff will be able enjoy some of the things you don’t get from a business park.

“We had the option to go to a business park. It would have been easier but not necessarily the right decision.”

The University of Derby has an ambition to have a greater physical presence in the heart of the city – part of its ongoing commitment to the inclusive and regenerative growth of Derby.

A prime example of this is One Friar Gate Square, colloquially known as ‘The Copper Building’, in Ford Street, which is home to the university’s School of Law and Social Sciences.

University of Derby

However, recently the university unveiled its vision to build a new, iconic business school, directly opposite.

Set to open in September 2024, the building is projected to be the study base for over 6,000 students by 2030.

Kamil said: “We had been toiling with the idea of this project for many years but now appears to be the best time for it.

“In the last nine months, we have been factoring in what would be the future of business education post-pandemic and are now engaging with key stakeholders in the city and in education to get that right.

“We are conscious of fact that we are the only university in Derby and Derbyshire. We have a responsibility to the city and county to really help with the growth, innovation and enterprise agenda.”

Urban Sister is a company which is investing in creating high-end residential conversions in the city centre.

Urban Sister

Director Ruth, along with her sister Gillian Hobbs, launched Urban Sister in 2018 with a mission to transform commercial buildings into homes and reinvigorate the city centre.

Their first commercial conversion, Urban Lofts, involved turning an empty office building in Lodge Lane into student apartments.

The scheme was delivered to such a high standard that it won the Best HMO Deal, 2019, at the UK Property Investor Awards.

Ruth said: “Derby has something really special about it – it has special people supporting it.

“We saw a real opportunity for a micro developer like ourselves to take empty buildings and repurpose and reignite them.

“We also have the big developments like Becketwell nearby, which are creating a ripple effect.

Bam Boom Cloud

“We feel supported by the larger developers, Marketing Derby and the city council.

“This support and the progress of these large developments can only help give confidence to other micro developers.”

Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust has ambitious plans to make more of Derby’s waterways.

A key element of its proposed Derby Waterside project is The Derby Arm – a 30-metre-high electro-mechanical structure capable of lifting canal boats out of the restored Derby Canal and placing them into the River Derwent (and vice-versa).

This would allow boats on the UK canal network to travel into the centre of Derby, up to the Museum of Making.

The trust is also the organisation behind the Derby Riverboat due for launch on the River Derwent.

Mike said: “Our primary purpose is to restore the original canal in Derby, to create a green corridor. The most immediate project is the river boat, taking passengers up and down the River Derwent.

“If we pull the Derby Arm project off it will be a big thing, both nationally and internationally.

“A similar project, the Falkirk Wheel, attracts 650,000 visitors a year. A spin off would be Derby Waterside, with development right along the river.”

To watch the panel discussion – and the rest of the Derby Property Summit event – please click here.

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