Cultural Heart ‘key’ to Derby’s future

Published: 26 March 2021

Derby Market Place outdoor dining destination

Derby Market Place (Averill Photography)

Derby City Council has announced how it plans to significantly remodel Derby’s Market Place, to create a new cultural heart for the city. 

The authority is working with partners to develop a strategy to rebuild a vibrant city centre, as part of the city’s coronavirus recovery plans – devised to ensure that Derby can ‘build back better’ after the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The strategy will reimagine the city centre, celebrating the city’s strengths, and recognising gaps in its offer, as well as benchmarking against other cities to identify opportunities for development, before considering how the space can be best used. 

Paul Simpson, Derby City Council’s Chief Executive said that the new strategy would bring focus to the city’s landmark Market Place, creating a key focal point for the city. 

In terms of its heritage value, location, purpose and potential functionality, the Market Place should be no less than the jewel in Derby city centre’s crown,

We’re working to understand how – along with partners – we can make the most of this space and create a thriving cultural heart for the city, that has huge impact for our local economy.

The cultural heart strategy will encompass existing and planned cultural facilities, including the new Museum of Making, the transformed Market Hall, and the new performance venue at Becketwell. 

Local businesses and venues will also be key to this – we have fantastic cultural organisations, businesses and venues, all of whom will be key to this plan,” added Paul. “Organisations like QUAD, Artcore, and Deda bring creativity and excitement into the city, and we need to harness that, ensure all cultural partners are playing an active role in developing these ideas with us.

Options for the remodelled space – which will examine mixed use opportunities in the area – will include the former Assembly Rooms venue, looking at the site in the wider context of the area. Proposals to demolish the building are set to be considered at the upcoming April planning committee. 

David Fletcher, Director of City Development and Growth, said:  

We know that there is much more we can do to recognise, celebrate and communicate our cultural assets.  

In providing and connecting spaces and support for cultural opportunities, the city and its communities can work together toward our ambition that by 2030, culture will play a major part in making Derby a great place to work, live, study and visit.

Work to improve the cultural offer in Derby is already underway. The Council has plans for a new 3,500 performance venue at Becketwell and is currently transforming Derby Market Hall. While Derby Museums are set to open the new Museum of Making later in 2021. 

A Derby City Council spokesperson said:  

Derby needs to draw people into the city to support our local businesses and economy. We know that we’ve got the potential to compete locally, and nationally. We’ve seen it happen during COVID. 

The power of culture and events to aid recovery was proven, both with Derby Market Place and Festive Derby, which were highly successful events, providing a massive boost to the city centre and local businesses at a very difficult time. 

Derby Market Place saw an economic return of £3.30 for every £1.00 that was invested. It also helped Derby to achieve 93% in the Centre for Cities Recovery Index – higher than neighbouring cities. 

They added;

Building on that success and creating a cultural heart will attract visitors to the city, and support Derby’s long-term recovery. 

The Council is not an island – to make this a success we must continue working with our partners and local businesses.

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