Latest News | 1 March 2022

Keynote speaker Paul Simpson: ‘Things are happening in the city’

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“Things are happening in the city” – that was message keynote speaker Paul Simpson had for the audience at this year’s Annual Business Event.

In conversation with Marketing Derby’s managing director, John Forkin, Mr Simpson, who is chief executive at Derby City Council, talked about the key schemes that will drive the city forward.

And he also outlined the challenges that Derby still needs to overcome.

Reflecting on the past 12 months – and the way the city came together to negotiate the pandemic – Mr Simpson said: “The term ‘Team Derby’ has become embedded in people’s psychology; it is used by a lot of people across the city.

“I think that is a fantastic testament to the work that we’ve all done together over the course of the last two years in response to the pandemic. It’s great that people feel part of the team.”

Mr Simpson then went through some of the key schemes and projects that the city council has been involved in, including the creation of the SmartParc SEGRO Spondon food manufacturing and distribution hub, which will bring 5,000 jobs to Derby.

He also mentioned bringing advanced composites firm Neos International to the city – and the arrival of Nuclear AMRC to Infinity Park, where work on a new high-tech facility is due to start soon.

And he shared his delight at the arrival of IT firm Bam Boom Cloud to the city centre, which benefitted from support from the Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) Fund.

Mr Simpson then ruminated on the challenges that lie ahead, particularly the fate of the Derby’s Assembly Rooms site.

Mr Simpson said: “It’s a challenge. We have got planning permission to demolish the building but that is dependent on having a clear plan in place as to what will go in its stead.

“We announced last year, in conjunction with the University of Derby, our aspiration to relocated Derby Theatre to that site.

“My aspiration would be to have a larger, modern theatre in the city centre.

“Derby needs to be a destination – and for me, it is having a theatre in the heart of the city centre, creating that vibrancy we all want to see.”

Looking ahead, Mr Simpson spoke about plans to bring more green space to the city centre, the transformation of the Market Hall, the creation of the Eastern Gateway and the impending opening of the new Moorways Sports Village.

He also talked about what he described as the city council’s “flagship regeneration scheme” – Becketwell, the first phase of which is now underway.

The second phase of the scheme will include a new 3,500 capacity performance venue, with future phases potentially including a hotel, office space and student accommodation.

Mr Simpson said: “This will be a really mixed-use site. Once it’s finished it will send a really strong message.

“This is the first major development right in the heart of the city centre.

“This, along with the Castleward and Nightingale developments, show that things are happening in the city.”

To watch the Q&A session with Paul Simpson – and the rest of the Annual Business Event – please click here.

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