Latest News | 4 April 2024

Can we fix it? Yes, we Cannes!

Derby City Council
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As the father of a two-year-old son, I’ve been made to watch quite a bit of children’s television recently.

Correction. An awful lot of children’s television – particularly since he’s learned how to work the remote control.

Kids and technology, eh? It’s like strawberries and cream.

As someone who was brought up on the likes of Trumpton and Bagpuss, I’ve found myself having to quickly get up to speed with what toddlers are watching these days.

That said, it has been reassuring to see that some children’s television characters have stood the test of time.

Characters like Postman Pat. Did you know Pat now flies a helicopter?

He’s also got an off-roader and a motorbike, in addition to his ‘bright red van’.

No wonder the price of a first-class stamp has gone up!

Bob the Builder fans will be pleased to know that several episodes of the show can still be found on the BBC iPlayer.

Bob’s catchphrase is “Can we fix it?”, to which the other characters respond with “Yes we can!”

If you’ve been out and about in Derby recently, you’ll have noticed quite a few people dressed up like Bob.

That’s because there are several major development projects all currently under construction – many of which will open as soon as next year.

“Fixing” Derby may be too strong a word, but collectively all of these schemes will certainly make the city a better place to be – bringing footfall and vibrancy.

And the most important thing these projects all share is that they are real.

They are not just fanciful CGIs created by a bit of software in an architects’ office. They are actually happening.

Incidentally, I’ve always wondered where they get the people who appear in those CGIs.

There’s normally someone riding a bike, a businessman walking down the street and a young family pushing a pram.

It’s my lifetime ambition to appear in one – although I’m yet to see one which shows an exasperated father and a back-arching toddler on the floor, who’s throwing a hissy fit because he can’t have any more sweets.

I digress.

The place to find out the latest on all these new developments is the Derby City Lab.

At the start of March, the new-look city lab, housed inside the Derbion shopping centre, opened its doors to the public for the first time.

The lab’s new location is designed to attract as much footfall as possible – and it is certainly doing that. Within the first week, almost 750 people came through its doors.

Visitors to the city lab can find out more about the many exciting developments that are taking place in the city – or are in the pipeline.

The city centre provided the focus of ‘Team Derby’s pitch at this year’s MIPIM.

Billed as the world’s largest property investment exhibition, the event, which takes place in Cannes (hence the deliberate misspelling in the headline of this article!), attracts investors from all over the globe.

Not so much hard hats and hi-vis vests – more expensive suits and sunglasses.

It was while Team Derby was at MIPIM that an exciting new CGI was released (no, I’m not in it) of what the former Assembly Rooms site could potentially be.

It is now a decade since the Market Place venue was closed by fire – and on the 10th anniversary, the image was released.

It is a question that Derby people have been asking ever since Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service put out the final lick of flame. What is happening with the Assembly Rooms?

Indeed, it was a question asked by many people who entered the Derby City Lab when I was there working a shift.

Ideas and feedback are currently being sought on the vision for the site, which could form the heart of a new ‘cultural quarter’.

Personally, I’m just glad that after so many years, we are getting closer to seeing something done.

One site where things really are getting done is that of the new Becketwell entertainment and conference venue.

The £45.8 million scheme, which is being funded by Derby City Council and built by Bowmer + Kirkland, is starting to take shape now.

Recently, to mark the completion of the external structure and roof of the building, which will have a 3,500 capacity, a ‘steel-signing’ ceremony recently took place.

Sod-cutting, steel signing, topping out – there’s all kinds of ceremonies that take place when a new building is being birthed.

Having a venue of such scale back in the city centre will be a great boost to Derby – particularly considering the prolonged absence of the aforementioned Assembly Rooms.

This, along with the many other developments set to come online soon, such as the revamped Market Hall, should help give more of an impression of a city that is home to global heavyweights like Rolls-Royce.

The firm is Derby’s largest private sector employer and a major contributor to our local economy.

So, it was great to be able to report in March that the firm is continuing to invest in Derby.

The latest investment is a share of £55 million, which will be invested at its civil aerospace site to cope with future demand for engines and aftermarket services. Around 200 jobs will be created.

And the good news could keep coming for that part of Derby. In March, Derby City Council’s cabinet approved plans to put nearby Infinity Park Derby forward as a potential East Midlands Investment Zone.

One of 12 planned across the UK, the East Midlands Investment Zone would offer a range of incentives to firms based within its boundaries, including business rates retention and tax incentives, to help boost economic growth and create thousands of high-quality jobs.

So, I hope Bob the Builder has some availability in the coming years – because Derby could be set to keep him very busy!

Anyway, have a safe and productive April and I look forward to catching up again with you soon.

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