Derby’s new £45.8m performance venue has reached a new milestone, with Derbyshire-based construction group Bowmer + Kirkland awarded the building contract – and construction work now underway.

St James Securities has also released a new and enhanced CGI showing what the performance venue will look like once complete.

The exciting new 3,500 capacity entertainment and events venue forms phase two of the £200m Becketwell regeneration scheme, which is the most significant urban regeneration scheme in the city for more than 30 years.

The new performance venue will be built on the site of the former Pennine Hotel, Laurie House offices, multi-storey car park and Pink Coconut nightclub in Colyear Street and Padley House in Becket Street.

It 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.

Bowmer + Kirkland took over the site on 5 June 2023 and practical completion is scheduled for January 2025, just a couple of weeks later than was originally planned when contracts were signed in March 2022.

Bowmer + Kirkland is one of the UK’s largest and most successful privately owned construction and development groups. Over the past five years, the company has secured projects with a value of almost £3 billion. Its construction teams offer private and public sector clients a national service delivered locally through its specialist regional teams.

In February 2022, Peveril Securities, the development arm of the Bowmer + Kirkland Group, were appointed funding and development partners for future phases of the Becketwell scheme.

ASM Global’s UK portfolio includes OVO Arena Wembley, AO Arena (Manchester), Utilita Arena (Newcastle), Bonus Arena (Hull), first direct Arena (Leeds), Olympia London and OVO Hydro (Glasgow).

The venue is expected to significantly add to Derby’s cultural offering. It will offer a larger, more flexible space than the city centre has had in the past and will collaborate with and 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 attract an additional 250,000 visitors to Derby. It is also expected to create over 200 new local jobs, it will generate more than £10m GVA per year for the area, diversify the economy and increase levels of investment in surrounding areas of the city centre.

Demolition work for the performance venue began in May 2022 with work starting on site this week. Completion and handover to ASM Global will take place in January 2025.

Phase one of the Becketwell development, which comprises 259 one and two-bedroom Build To Rent (BTR) apartments, is nearing completion alongside Springwell Square which will serve as a multi-purpose space within the development.

Paul Morris, Director of St James Securities said:

“We are delighted to have concluded this agreement with Bowmer + Kirkland, a local company with a nationwide track record of working on award-winning projects for an extensive portfolio of developers, public sector clients and blue-chip companies across a broad range of sectors.

“In a very difficult inflationary climate where materials and labour costs have increased substantially, St James Securities has worked extremely hard with B+K through the design development and tendering stage to ensure the project would be delivered well within the fixed price contract with Derby City Council.

“I won’t pretend it’s been an easy process to get to this stage; however, I am very proud of the entire professional team involved in this project who have worked tirelessly to ensure that we’ve worked around the many challenges we faced along the way.

“There have been a few naysayers who have sought to publicly criticise us and suggest we would either throw the towel in or return to the Council seeking more money.

“This is simply not how we operate and once we agree a price, as we did with Derby City Council, then we stand by it. We have a wealth of experience in delivering complex, award-winning regeneration schemes and having the financial backing of Peveril Securities has further strengthened our ability to take on these challenges and win.

“The skill set of a dedicated and experienced team, such as the one we have pulled together for the performance venue, allows us to work in a way that central government or local authorities are not able. This is a great example of how the private and public sectors can work in partnership to deliver complex schemes at a fixed price with the private sector absorbing all the development and construction risks which in this project have been substantial.”

Councillor Baggy Shanker, Leader of Derby City Council said:

“This is an important step forward in finally delivering the new venue Derby needs, which will deliver real, tangible benefits for businesses, residents and visitors.

“Creating a city centre for all is one of our priorities and this new and flexible space is a key part of bringing vibrancy and pride back to our city centre.”

Christian Parnell, Bowmer + Kirkland Regional Director, added:

“We are absolutely delighted to have been appointed to build Derby’s exciting new entertainment and events venue. 2023 marks Bowmer + Kirkland’s first 100 years and it is fitting that we are beginning work on a major scheme which will bring life back to a once vibrant and prominent area of the city.

“We are looking forward to working with St James Securities, Derby City Council and ASM Global to deliver this landmark venue for the people of Derby and Derbyshire.”

Ralph Jones, Managing Director of Peveril Securities said:

“We are pleased to be investing in the future of our home city of Derby and look forward to supporting St James Securities to deliver the landmark Arena and future phases of the Becketwell regeneration.”

Future planned phases of the scheme include the potential for a range of other complementary uses of the site including a hotel, further residential accommodation, a multi-storey car park and purpose-built student residential.”

Maria Bertelli, Strategic Business Development Director, Europe at ASM Global, added:

“The appointment of Bowmer + Kirkland marks the latest milestone in the delivery of the Becketwell Performance Venue. It’s a significant moment for this exciting project and brings us a huge step closer to the opening date of the entertainment and events venue.

“Particularly amidst current challenges faced by the entire construction industry, it is incredibly promising to be moving ahead at pace – so we extend our congratulations to the Council and the SJS team. ASM Global is proud to be a part of this project, and to support continued growth of the Midlands economy and cultural landscape.”