Assembly Rooms plans unveiled for new cultural heart

Published: 14 March 2024

A new image has been released, giving an artist’s impression of how the site could look once finished

Derby City Council announces that the site of the long-closed venue will pave the way for a massive redevelopment project, marking a significant step towards the regeneration of the Market Place.

To mark the ten-year anniversary of the fire which closed the Assembly Rooms, a new image has been released giving an artist’s impression of how the site could look once finished. The proposed new cultural, commercial, and creative public space will feature a multi-functional building, with spaces for meeting, working, and creating alongside restaurant and commercial space. The image also shows how the redesigned and enhanced Market Place could look, as it once again becomes a focal point for the city.

Last month, the Council announced VINCI Developments UK and ION Developments as its preferred development partners for the redevelopment of the Assembly Rooms site. Along with proposals for other key areas within the city centre, the partnership has produced an outline masterplan to create a new cultural quarter on the site, forming Derby’s cultural heart. The derelict 1970s theatre building will be demolished to make way for a new multi-purpose development, containing leisure, commercial and community facilities that will put culture at the heart of the city centre.

Work is now underway to develop the detailed proposals alongside stakeholders in the city. Pre-demolition works began on the site in 2023 and continue to progress at pace, with the main structural demolition planned to begin in autumn 2024 to make way for the new development.

Councillor Nadine Peatfield, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Centre, Regeneration, Culture and Tourism said: 

For the past ten years the Assembly Rooms has stood empty, waiting to be regenerated into a hub of cultural activity. After several unviable plans being put forward over the past decade, this administration is confident that we can deliver on these plans for the citizens of Derby. I’m thrilled to be announcing that we plan to progress on the demolition of the Assembly Rooms’ this autumn.”

“We’re on a journey to transform Derby into a vibrant city centre with culture at its heart, creating a go-to destination which not only attracts visitors from outside of the wider region but also offers an affordable place for our citizens to enjoy. It’s fantastic to see change happening in the city centre, with the Market Place taking centre stage at the heart of Derby’s transformation.

Change is already happening in the Market Place, with new hoardings recently installed around the former tourist information office. The hoardings display the Council’s regeneration projects for the city centre and its cultural offer, including the Becketwell Performance Venue and Derby Market Place that are both due to open in 2025. These schemes demonstrate the Council’s commitment to regenerating and enhancing the city’s cultural offer.

Graham Lambert, Managing Director of VINCI UK Developments, said:  

Derby as a city has much to offer and potential to be harnessed. We share the ambition of the Council, the local community and businesses, in seeking to revitalise the cultural core of the city.  

The Council has laid the foundation for this, and we will create community led assets, flexible and diverse spaces and a quality business district that compliments the inward investment in the city. 

We are proud to be chosen by the Council as partner for this important strategic project and look forward to working collaboratively with the Council and local stakeholders.

Steve Parry, Managing Director of ION Developments, said:  

We are delighted to be selected alongside VINCI Developments to work up these exciting plans for Derby City Council and the people and businesses of Derby.  

Together, we will use our extensive experience to create a thriving city centre location that offers a blend of cultural, community, and commercial space to meet Derby’s needs, both now and long into the future.

VINCI and ION will continue to work closely with the Council, local businesses and community stakeholders over the next six months to develop their vision and submit their plans for the site.

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