Steel-signing celebrates progress at Derby's new £45.8m venue

Published: 19 March 2024

Gus Kedzior, Regional Commercial Director for Bowmer + Kirkland (left) and Councillor Nadine Peatfield signed one of the steel beams

A special ceremony has taken place to mark the progress made on the construction of Derby’s new £45.8m entertainment and conference venue.

Senior figures from Derby City Council and project partners visited the Becketwell site to ceremoniously sign one of the development’s steel beams. The event celebrated completion of the external structure and roof of the building.

Councillor Nadine Peatfield, Cabinet Member for City Centre, Regeneration, Culture and Tourism at Derby City Council was first to sign the steel and said:

I’m thrilled to see the progress being made and have this unique opportunity to add our own individual mark in the legacy of this landmark building. This venue is a key part of our journey to transform Derby into a vibrant city centre with culture at its heart. It’s really exciting to see the structure go up and the space take shape at such pace.

The main contractors, Heage-based Bowmer + Kirkland, took over the site in June 2023 and by December the steelwork, alongside the rows of concrete steps which will create the tiered seating area, had been put in place.

The roof is now ready for a concrete pour, which will be followed by a layer of insulation, plasterboard and quilting to the underside to ensure the building is soundproofed.

Gus Kedzior, Regional Commercial Director for Bowmer + Kirkland said:

Today is a great day for all of the project team but also for Derby and the wider community. Completion of the steel frame now means that we can see the shape and size of the venue and in less than a year we will be handing the project over to Derby City Council.

The finished building will contain 1,200 tonnes of steel. Heavy machinery helped the 10 operatives responsible for fixing the steel into place. The heaviest single piece weighs 3.5 tonnes and the longest single span of steel is 12.9 metres.

Built on the site of the former Pink Coconut nightclub on Colyear Street, Laurie House offices, multi-storey car park and Padley House in Becket Street, the new venue is set to significantly enhance to the city’s cultural offering.

Boasting a larger and more flexible space than the city centre has had in the past, the venue will complement the activities of Derby Arena to provide the best possible events programme for Derby and the wider region.

It will be a scalable space capable of staging a range of concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows, musical theatre, exhibitions, and business events.

The venue is set to host over 200 cultural and commercial events each year and expected to attract an additional 250,000 visitors to Derby. It is also expected to create over 200 new local jobs and provide the impetus to kick-start further investment in surrounding areas of the city centre.

The venue will be owned by Derby City Council and leased to and operated by ASM Global, the world’s leading venue management and services company, and producer of live experiences, whose UK portfolio includes OVO Arena Wembley, AO Arena (Manchester), first direct Arena (Leeds) and Olympia and OVO Hydro (Glasgow). 

Construction work is progressing to plan with practical completion and handover scheduled for the first quarter of 2025.

The exciting new 3,500 capacity entertainment and conference venue forms the second phase of the £200m Becketwell regeneration scheme, the most significant urban rejuvenation project for more than three decades.

Phase one includes the city’s first purpose-built Build to Rent scheme. The Condor is owned and operated by Grainger plc and now almost fully let. The adjacent Springwell Square, a new public green space for the city, officially opened in September 2023.

The Becketwell scheme is being developed by St James Securities, a privately-owned Leeds-based property developer, with a track record of delivering successful major regeneration schemes.

Paul Morris, Development Director at St James Securities, said:

The steel-signing ceremony is a significant milestone in the construction of the long-awaited new entertainment and conference venue for the city.

Despite the terrible weather conditions over the past few months, construction has continued apace, and the building is really taking shape now.

We look forward to celebrating the completion of the arena at a topping-out ceremony later this year.

Future planned phases of the Becketwell scheme include potential for a hotel, and purpose-built student residential.

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