Latest News | 31 August 2023

Raising the bar to meet raised expectations

University of Derby
DCG (Derby College Group)
Wavensmere Homes
Derby Museums Trust
YMCA Derbyshire
Padley Group
Derby High School
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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.

One Sunday morning in August, I, along with around 12 million others across the UK, tuned in to watch the Women’s World Cup Final.

Sadly, as we all know, despite a roaringly good effort, the Lionesses fell at the final hurdle.

But it was a magnificent team effort – and we can all rightly feel proud of their achievements.

Going into the match, following their triumph at the Euros, many of us were hoping that the Lionesses could further etch their name in history by lifting the ultimate prize in football.

Our expectations had been raised.

I suppose the same could be said of Derby and its regeneration.

Like the women’s game, for so many years the city had stood in the shadows.

It had been overlooked in terms of investment – and experienced its fair share of false dawns.

Looking at it today, it’s amazing how far women’s football has come, particularly in the last few years – and the same could be said about Derby.

There are issues that still need addressing in the city. There is no denying that.

But it has made great strides over the last 15 years or so, attracting major investors, which has resulted in some truly impressive schemes.

That work is continuing to this day. You only have to walk down places like Agard Street or London Road to appreciate that.

In terms of attracting schemes of this quality, it is not just a case of biting the hand off the first investor who shows an interest.

Any new addition has to be more than just bricks and mortar. It must be something that leaves a legacy.

That is why the Women’s World Cup Final was more than just 90 minutes of football. The exploits of our women’s national team will have inspired young girls across the country to take up the beautiful game.

So, to be of true benefit to Derby, a proposed scheme must be of a particularly high standard.

As I say, expectations have been raised.

In August, two major schemes that fall into this bracket progressed – both involving Wavensmere Homes.

Firstly, we had the news that plans had been formally submitted for the long overdue transformation of the derelict Friar Gate Goods Yard site.

Then, towards the end of the month, Wavensmere, along with Wilson Bowden Developments, launched a public consultation and released new visuals for Cathedral One – a new apartments scheme earmarked for redundant land near to Cathedral Green.

Again, this is another site that has been standing empty for some years – although not quite as long as Friar Gate Goods Yard!

Cathedral One would be situated just across the way from Derby Museums’ Museum of Making.

When I talk about quality additions to the city, for me, the Museum of Making is right up there.

Opened in 2021, this incredible multi-million-pound venue has taken Derby to a new level.

And it is already making a significant contribution to the city, both economically and in terms of social value.

In August, Derby Museums published its Social Return on Investment report, the museum, which showed that the Museum of Making contributes almost £4 million a year to the local economy.

That social contribution is encapsulated in a story we also ran in August about Derby Museums awarding a cleaning contract to Upbeat Clean, a social enterprise, which provides vital employment to refugees.

An argument I constantly hear from some quarters is that it is all well and good Derby having shiny new apartment buildings when it still has issues to tackle such as homelessness.

The third sector is working tirelessly to help those who have been left behind by society.

And that is why I was pleased to report on the agreed merger between the Padley Group and YMCA Derbyshire.

I am sure the combined strength of these two organisations will make a real difference to the people they help.

The pandemic has much to answer for in terms of the impact it has had on their lives.

For some people who caught Covid, that impact is still being felt today – not just emotionally but physically.

There is much that isn’t known about ‘Long Covid’ – but scientists at the University of Derby are leading a national study to understand the condition.

It is great to see our university at the forefront of this important work.

On the subject of the university, this September it will be welcoming a new cohort of students to the city.

This follows A-Level results day, which took place in August – and it was great to be able to report on the achievements of students at Derby College Group, Derby High School and Repton School.

Their achievements are all the more remarkable as their education was particularly badly impacted by the aforementioned pandemic.

I hope those who have chosen to study at Derby are looking forward to coming here – and experiencing all the city has to offer.

That offer includes the quality places there are to eat and drink – of which there are many.

In August, the finalists of the Marketing Derby Food and Drink Awards were released.

The bar has definitely been raised this year. It is a really high-quality shortlist  – and I am particularly envious of the judges who will be going out and visiting these establishments ahead of the winners being announced in October.

We can’t promise excitement on the same level as the Women’s World Cup Final – but it should be a very enjoyable night!

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

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