Latest News | 1 June 2023

Derby keeps its sunny outlook whatever the weather

Wavensmere Homes
University of Derby
Annie's Burger Shack
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Here, in his latest monthly column reflecting on the news over the past month, our Press and PR Executive Robin Johnson looks at the headlines.

I don’t know about you, but this year it seems to have been a very long, cold, wet spring.

It feels like we’ve been hunkered down indoors for ages waiting for a prolonged period of decent weather to arrive.

But now, as I write this, I’m looking out of my office window at blue skies, punctuated by the occasional fluffy cloud.

The trees are pretty much in full leaf, their branches swaying on a gentle breeze.

A blissful scene.

No doubt when this gets published, Hurricane Alan – or whoever’s turn it is to be named after a weather event – will have arrived, and my ramblings will seem hopelessly out of date (not for the first time, I hear you say).

I seem to have that effect on the weather.

It can be a blazing hot day – then I put on my shorts – and all of a sudden, a huge cloud appears from out of nowhere, creating an almost total eclipse.

While the weather did its best to ruin many bank holiday plans (of which there were numerous in May – bank holidays that is) the outlook for Derby remained pretty sunny.

A constant ray of sunshine was Rolls-Royce, which continues to achieve some incredible things at its civil aerospace and defence sites in Derby.

May saw the engineering giant, the city’s largest private sector employer, hold its AGM and issue a trading update in which it reported positive trading – thanks in no small part to large orders secured by both its civil aerospace and defence businesses.

Then, not long after, the company revealed it had successfully completed the first tests of its revolutionary UltraFan aero engine at Test Bed 80, right here in Derby.

The significance of this cannot be underplayed. Rolls-Royce is leading the way in the quest to make air travel more sustainable – and UltraFan is set to play a significant role.

As well as having the potential to be the most efficient aero engine of its kind in the world – bits of its technology can be used to make engines of the present more environmentally friendly.

Several years ago, I remember writing a front page for the Derby Telegraph when Rolls-Royce first announced plans for the UltraFan.

I recall the headline, which read “2020 Vision”, with the page designers using aero engines to represent the zeros, which I thought was a really neat idea.

I’ve followed UltraFan’s journey pretty much from day one – so I was delighted to see Rolls-Royce achieve this latest landmark.

Around the time I first started writing about the UltraFan, I was also reporting on yet another stalled plan to redevelop the former Derbyshire Royal Infirmary site.

For many years, the site lay undeveloped after the main hospital buildings were demolished.

Of course, today, all that has changed. Wavensmere Homes is rapidly developing a high-quality residential on the scheme, which in many ways is an exemplar for future projects.

An aspect of the development that I particularly admire is the way they have approached the historic ‘pepperpot’ buildings on the site, renovating and repurposing these characterful structures in a highly sympathetic way.

The latest news involving the pepperpots, revealed in May, was that one of the two buildings will house a new café, bar and restaurant.

I can’t wait to sit in there and raise a glass to my appendix (I had it taken out there when it was the old DRI).

Another building we should start to see rising out of the ground pretty soon is the University of Derby’s new business school.

In May, the university announced it had appointed a developer to deliver the scheme.

The business school – and the wider masterplan for a university city hub – were among the projects Marketing Derby’s investment team promoted at the recent UKREiiF event, which took place during May in Leeds.

The event attracted thousands of delegates from all over the country – and hopefully those who were interested in Derby’s schemes will make time to join us at our forthcoming Derby Property Summit, which takes place on 12 July.

The team here at Marketing Derby are currently busy assembling a top line up of keynote speakers and panellists for the event, which this year will take place at Reach Events, on Pride Park.

For more information about the Derby Property Summit 2023 visit .

Beyond the city boundaries, it was also great to be able to report on progress at other key sites around the county.

New Stanton Park, on the site of the former Stanton Ironworks, near Ilkeston, will be one of the largest new employment sites in the county, once completed.

Work has now started on preparing the site for its first units, planning for which has now been submitted.

I can’t finish a round-up of May without mentioning the Derby Book Festival.

I’m a big lover of books and the written word in general – and it was great to see the success of this year’s event, which attracted a number of big-name authors.

Marketing Derby got fully behind the event, with our very own John Forkin kicking off the festival with a session in which he interviewed political commentator Alastair Campbell.

This was then followed by a packed Bondholder Derby Book Festival event held at Annie’s Burger Shack, where people saw F1 presenter Lee McKenzie talk about her latest book.

Marketing Derby also threw open the doors of its Derby City Lab for donations of unwanted children’s books – to which there was a phenomenal response.

Thank you to everyone who donated books, which will now be distributed to children in the city who do not have one (yes, it’s hard to believe, in this day and age, that there are children out there who do not own a book, but it’s true).

Personally, I like nothing better than sitting out in the garden in the sunshine with a good book.

So, if you don’t mind, I’ll think I’ll sign off and go and do just that. Wait a minute. Does that look like rain?

Have a safe and productive June and I look forward to catching up again soon.

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