Detailed planning permission has been granted for the first phase of the £200m regeneration of the Becketwell area of Derby city centre, with development work to start in late Spring.

At a meeting of the Derby City Council planning committee held last night, councillors considered a reserved matters planning application and voted unanimously in favour of developers St James Securities’ landmark scheme.

With detailed planning consented, the Leeds-based company will now be able to start to work-on phase one of the scheme, which includes the construction of 259 build to rent apartments on the site of the former Debenhams store on Victoria Street.

A new high quality public square on the site of the former Central United Reformed Church remains the centrepiece of the development and will also be delivered as part of the first phase.

Work is already well underway to bring forward a second phase to comprise a new 3,500-capacity performance and conference venue on the site of Laurie House offices and the former Pink Coconut nightclub.

Future planned phases of the scheme include a range of other complementary uses of the site including up to 25,000 sq. m of new grade A offices and commercial space, a hotel and a multi-storey car park.

Demolition of the former Debenhams store which occupied part of the site was completed last year.

The regeneration of the Becketwell area is expected to bring numerous benefits to the city, including a repopulation of both office workers and residents to the city centre which will help boost activity outside of traditional retail hours.

It is also hoped that the substantial levels of investment proposed at Becketwell will provide confidence for further new investment in surrounding areas of the city centre.

More than 2,000 jobs are expected to be created by the development.

A report, prepared by the city council’s planning department ahead of the meeting had recommended the scheme for approval, stating that:

“The proposal is an acceptable form of development in terms of its layout, scale, external appearance and impact on the overall character of the immediate area.

“The development should act as a catalyst and drive subsequent phases of development on the wider Becketwell site and this important proposal will deliver much needed residential accommodation in the city centre. The proposal accords with the Development Plan when read as a whole and it constitutes sustainable development in social, economic and environmental terms.”

Commenting on the decision to grant planning permission for phase one of the Becketwell scheme, Paul Morris, development director at St James Securities said:

“We are delighted that planning has been granted for what will be a landmark regeneration scheme for the city.

“We and our wider team of consultants have been working on the scheme for more than three years. To receive a unanimous decision from the planning committee is a vindication that our scheme is the right fit for the city and will provide the impetus to kick-start further investment.

“The Becketwell regeneration scheme is now set to move from being an aspiration to a reality. We look forward to working alongside Derby City Council and our other private sector partners to deliver a scheme that will revitalise a long-neglected area of the city and contribute to improving the vibrancy and attraction of the city centre overall.

“Gaining detailed approval will mean that we can now get onto site. At present, the programme is showing a start of works in May, with completion at the start of 2023.”

Councillor Matthew Holmes, deputy leader of Derby City Council and cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation, said:

“We very much welcome the exciting progress on the Becketwell development. A thriving city centre is vital for Derby’s future economic prosperity and this project will be transformational – allowing hundreds of people to live in high-quality homes in the heart of the city and breathing new life into an area which has been challenged for many years. 

“Of course, alongside the apartments and commercial units that feature in this first phase of the scheme, there will be even wider development, including new offices, public space, and a hotel – as well as a new performance venue, that will be developed by St James Securities and owned by Derby City Council.

“Becketwell will truly help us achieve our aspiration to make Derby a vibrant city where people will want to live, work, shop and spend their leisure time and we look forward to seeing work begin on site to make this a reality in the coming weeks.

“We remain grateful for the support of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership in helping bring this project to life.”

John Forkin, managing director of Marketing Derby, added:

“We are delighted that planning has been approved for what is a crucial step in taking forward one the city’s regeneration priorities. 

“There is much talk about the need to repurpose city centres and by creating new quality homes for 500 people in the heart of Derby, St James Securities are doing exactly what is required. 

“This is an important piece in a bigger jigsaw, that will not only develop the Becketwell site, but also act to build confidence for further investment in Derby.”

St James Securities is currently in legals with the funders and operators of the Build to Rent first phase of the scheme and will be announcing the name of the fund in the coming weeks once contracts have been exchanged.

Funding for the Becketwell project includes £8.1 million in Local Growth Fund investment from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership; the private sector-led partnership of business, local authorities, skills and training providers, and community and voluntary services which works to promote economic and jobs growth across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham, and Nottinghamshire.