Latest News | 13 July 2022

‘We have picked the right time to invest in Derby’

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Investors, architects, cultural leaders and environmental visionaries all have an important role to play in the future of our cities – and the Derby Property Summit brought them together to discuss the city’s repurposing plans.

Chaired by event host Declan Curry, he was joined by Aneesa Ahmed, an architectural and venue design graduate at the University of Derby, John Wood, associate director at Grainger Plc, Jamie Quince-Starkey, founder of Down to Earth Derby and Ruchita Shaikh, chief executive of Artcore.

The discussion opened with Aneesa, who recently won the university’s annual design prize for her vision for waterside living at Cathedral Green.

Her winning design of some luxury apartments not only featured an abundance of greenery outside, but inside.

She said: “As architects, reconnecting people with nature is our main focus now – creating sustainable architecture that benefits people’s health.

“Following the pandemic, we now need to design buildings that, if we ever find ourselves in the same situation again, can still connect people with nature.”

Someone who is hoping to reconnect Derby residents with nature in a big way is Jamie, founder of Down to Earth Derby, an organisation that aims to make the city a world leader in nature-based urban regeneration with a thriving, sustainable-regenerative economy.

His organisation has been working with mentor Sir Tim Smitt and the Eden Project to produce visions of what a nature-based regeneration of the city could look like.

Together with Eden and themed attraction designers Katapult, it has produced concepts for a huge wetlands area, an innovative urban future farm and the botanical cocktail garden bar called the Electric Daisy.

He said: “We have to make nature the focal point of our professional lives. Our relationship with nature has to improve tenfold.

“But nature-based regeneration of brownfield sites doesn’t work unless we create a new vibe and economic model and it doesn’t work if we don’t mobilise socially and give the public more accountability, responsibility and ownership.”

As well as nature, culture has a key role to play in repurposing Derby – creating a city where there is more going on – and therefore giving people more reasons to visit.

Artcore is just one of many cultural organisations in the city who are working to engage the community in art through its projects and gallery exhibitions.

When asked whether more events and festivals could help boost the city, Ruchita said: “There are plenty of events and festivals happening across Derby and Derbyshire, but I feel there’s a gap for having more city-centric events on a regular basis.”

A company that has already put its faith in Derby’s future is Grainger plc.

The firm, the UK’s largest listed provider of private rental homes, is investing just over £37 million to deliver 259 build-to-rent apartments, which make up the first phase of the £200 million Becketwell regeneration scheme.

Recently, the company announced that the apartments would be called The Condor, after a famous Rolls-Royce engine.

John said he was excited about Derby’s regeneration vision.

John said: “There is a massive opportunity for Derby. Looking at the CGIs for the various schemes being planned, I think we have picked the right time to invest in Derby.”

To watch the panel discussion – and the rest of the Derby Property Summit event – please click here.

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