Latest News | 3 February 2023

Talkin’ ‘bout my regeneration!

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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.

There was a particular story in January that got me asking myself, what was the best music gig I had ever been to?

It was the announcement by Derbyshire County Cricket Club that rock legends The Who will be playing the Incora County Ground this summer.

It’s a huge coup that Messrs Daltrey and Townshend will be descending upon Derby to ‘talk about their generation’.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of one of their contemporaries, Pink Floyd (as is Marketing Derby’s managing director John Forkin, I’ll have you know).

Perhaps my favourite ever gig was seeing the Floyd play Earl’s Court, in London, back in 1994, which turned out to be their last ever tour.

It was actually the second time I had seen them at Earl’s Court.

On the first occasion, which was only a couple of weeks earlier, one of the stands collapsed in the auditorium as they played the opening note of Shine on You Crazy Diamond and the gig was subsequently called off.

Thankfully, no-one died in that incident – and the rescheduled gig was mind-blowing.

I don’t really seem to have much luck with music gigs.

As a teenager, when I went through a brief phase of liking heavy metal, I went to see Iron Maiden at the Assembly Rooms with a group of school friends.

No-one had warned me of the dangers of being in a ‘mosh pit’ – and when the band came on to play the opening track, there was a huge crowd surge and I felt myself going down.

I emerged, slightly battered and bruised, next to the PA system, which is where I spent the rest of the gig.

Suffice to say, I couldn’t hear a word of the next morning’s double geography lesson!

Of course, the Assembly Rooms was in the news in January, after Derby City Council successfully bid for £20 million from the Levelling Up Fund to progress plans for a learning theatre on the site.

One could almost compare the clamour for Levelling Up cash like a mosh pit – so I’m delighted Derby got something.

The issue of the Assembly Rooms is one that needs resolving once and for all – and fingers crossed, this injection of cash will finally get things moving.

In terms of that part of the city centre, the timing could not be better.

There are many exciting projects taking place in and around the area.

Opposite the Assembly Rooms you have the Market Hall, which is undergoing a comprehensive revamp that should be well worth the wait.

And, not far away, you have Derbion’s ambitious plans for the Eagle Quarter.

Part of a wider master plan that also includes a site in Bradshaw Way, its vision would bring 1,250 new homes to the city centre, as well as new commercial, retail and public space.

In January, Derbion lodged outline planning applications for both sites with the city council.

It would be fair to say that the concept of city centre living has well and truly taken off in Derby.

When you consider the success of some of our other ongoing ‘resi’ developments, you can understand why Derbion has also embraced the concept in its plans.

Just a stone’s throw from the Derbion centre, you have the Nightingale Quarter scheme, which is being delivered by Wavensmere Homes.

Such is the popularity of that scheme, which is being built on the former DRI site, that it is aiming to build almost 500 new homes there this year.

Of course, new buildings are very welcome – but it is also good to see projects that reinvent our existing properties getting off the ground.

A prime example is the old Midland Railway Institute, a beautiful building steeped in rail heritage opposite Derby Midland Station, which gives you a real insight into what the old station used to look like.

In January, architects Lathams received planning permission to convert part of the building into apartments – and I’m sure a cracking job will be done.

An exciting project that is making progress is Down to Earth Derby’s plans to create a new public garden and entertainment space on disused land in Bold Lane.

Situated where part of the former Prince’s supermarket used to stand (ah, yes, we all remember Prince’s), the Electric Daisy will be a unique space, designed to bring nature back into the city centre.

We here at Marketing Derby are fully behind the proposal and will be watching its progress with interest.

Another organisation planning some exciting things for the city centre is the University of Derby, with its master plan for a new campus in the heart of Derby.

While those plans progress, investment continues at its Kedleston Road site, most recently a £5.8 million injection of cash to create a new ‘super lab’ to teach biomedical science.

From super labs to super aero engines, in January Rolls-Royce announced that it was ready to start testing its revolutionary new UltraFan engine at its test bed in Derby.

According to the engineering giant, it will be a real game changer in terms of environmentally friendly air travel – and we should all be proud that this pioneering technology is being developed right here in Derby.

It is innovations like this that will drive job creation in this city – a view shared by the latest Irwin Mitchell City Tracker, which predicts that job creation in Derby is set to rise faster than anywhere in the East Midlands.

Stats like this will be featured in Marketing Derby’s forthcoming Annual Business Event, which is set to take place at Derby Theatre on 24 February.

Featuring top keynote speakers, a panel discussion, films and more, it is an event that I always look forward to each year as I find myself leaving the auditorium with a renewed sense of optimism about the future of our city.

Places are filling up fast, so if you’ve not signed up to attend yet, you can find out more here.

Although I must warn you that ‘moshing’ will be strictly forbidden!

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

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