Latest News | 17 April 2023

Grants set to bring makers and designers to city centre

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Grants to convert properties in Derby city centre into studios for artists, makers and designers are set to be made available for landlords and business owners.

Derby City Council has formally delegated approval of a grant scheme to help create suitable spaces for those working in the creative industries.

The idea has been in development since 2018 when the council received £350,000 through a business rates pilot scheme towards developing a “Make and Trade Zone” for the city centre – but the project was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Catherine Williams, head of regeneration at Derby City Council, said: “Derby has always been a city of innovators and our rich heritage of design and manufacturing speaks for itself.

“We are committed to supporting the makers of the future and the continued, long-term cultural vibrancy of the city.

“Dedicated studios would allow our maker businesses to benefit from being part of a vibrant, creative community who actively share advice and ideas, as well as inspire each other.”

According to the council, the Make and Trade Zone would work in a similar way to the development of Sneinton Market Avenues, in Nottingham, which has revitalised a derelict site.

Now a hub for independent businesses, it’s aimed at start-ups in the creative and digital sector who must use the units primarily as offices and workshops.

Regular and one-off events also attract footfall throughout the year.

A feasibility study was carried out to test the Derby concept, which completed just as the UK went into lockdown.

The research identified that the digital, technical and creative industries needed space, ideally in the city centre, to help build a new creative working population.

Along with Marketing Derby, the University of Derby will be a key partner in delivering the scheme, bringing valuable experience of developing and running Banks Mill – a refurbished landmark building on Bridge Street, Derby.

Fitted out with 38 studios, it offers business support and stepped rents for graduates and those starting out or recently established within the creative industries.

The city council said the new scheme would be divided into two strands.

The first would offer grants of up to £50,000 for landlords to convert city centre properties into units suitable for creative industry and maker businesses.

The second strand would offer grants of up to £10,000 for creative and maker businesses to fit out and refurbish their rented studios.

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