Key stakeholders and business leaders from across the city have pledged their support for the proposed new 3,500 capacity entertainment and events venue planned for Becketwell Derby, which goes in front of the Derby City Council planning committee later this week.

Back in July, developers St James Securities, who are delivering the £200 million Becketwell regeneration scheme, submitted plans to Derby City Council for the venue, which will be managed by world-leading operator ASM Global.

Now, the city’s key stakeholders, including D2N2 LEP, the East Midlands Chamber, the University of Derby, Marketing Derby, Grainger plc, Derbion, Derby Live, Déda, QUAD, Derby College Group, Pauline Latham MP, the Cathedral Quarter and St Peter’s Quarter BIDS have written to the council expressing their overwhelming support for the project.

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

Located at the heart of the wider mixed-use Becketwell development, the purpose-built venue will be a fully flexible, scalable space capable of staging concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows, musical theatre, conferences, and exhibitions.

The main auditorium will have a maximum (seated and standing) capacity of 3,500 and offer a range of different event configurations including a fully seated layout for up to 2,100, enabling a wide and varied event programme to be delivered.

Along with a busy concert and entertainment programme, the venue will also attract a wide range of business events.

The new performance venue will be forward funded and owned by Derby City Council and run by world class operator ASM Global, the world’s leading producer of entertainment, sports, and exhibition experiences around the world.

In the UK, they operate Wembley SSE Arena, Manchester AO Arena, Newcastle Utilita Arena, Hull Bonus Arena, Leeds First Direct Arena and Glasgow SS Hydro Arena.

The D2N2 LEP, which has contributed to the upfront infrastructure and development works at the Becketwell site, has pledged its strong support for the project.

Will Morlidge, interim chief executive at the D2N2 LEP:

“The project will help to revitalise Derby city centre through a comprehensive package of regeneration and cultural investment. We believe this will help to transform the city’s cultural offer and enable a renewed sense of vibrancy through the project.

“Through this development there is potential for a significant contribution towards the economy of Derby and the D2N2 LEP area as a whole. The project fits within the strategic objectives of the LEP and will help to create a more prosperous and inclusive offer to local people through the multi-faceted regeneration approach being targeted

Scott Knowles, chief executive of East Midlands Chamber:

“For a long while now, Derby has been crying out for a venue such as the one proposed and has become something of an anomaly among similar sized cities with regards to its lack of such a destination.

“These plans are exciting, timely and we believe can play a major part in achieving the shared vision for a vibrant, thriving Derby.”

Professor Kathryn Mitchell, vice-chancellor at the University of Derby:

“The proposal brings a renewed confidence in Derby as a place and making a significant contribution to the cultural life and vibrancy of the city, which, in turn, will attract students to study here.

“The increased business presence in the city will benefit our new business school proposition. The Becketwell performance venue, following the successful delivery of the Museum of Making, is a crucial point on this journey and an opportunity to transform the city centre.”

Writing on behalf of Marketing Derby, managing director John Forkin wrote:

“The new venue will redefine the area, transforming the local landscape into a vibrant, safe environment, where locals and visitors want to come to enjoy what’s on offer. The people of Derby have been crying out for an investment such as this for decades.”

The performance venue will bring significant economic benefits to an underused part of the city acting as a catalyst for further jobs and investment, as well as improving the perception and reputation of Derby as a place to live, work and visit.”

Pauline Latham, MP for Mid Derbyshire:

“This proposed development is key to bringing strong economic benefits to the city including creating a wealth of jobs as well as contributing to the objectives of Derby’s Recovery Plan including the decarbonisation of the city. The site has been an under-utilised area of the city for 20 years and currently attracts anti-social behaviour.

“This development is crucial to the development of the city and will improve its reputation attracting visitors and commercial investment. The venue will create a vibrant and exciting environment and will increase footfall to an area which is currently not utilised.”

Adam Tamsett, general manager of the Derbion:

“The performance venue will bring significant economic benefits to the city centre, acting as a catalyst for further jobs and investment as well as improving the perception and reputation of Derby as a place to live, work and visit.

It is particularly pleasing to see the announcement of the operator ASM Global, who have a fantastic reputation and gives us further confidence that the performance venue will bring quality entertainment to the city centre.”

The planning application is set to be considered by the council’s planning committee next week.

Subject to planning consent being granted, work on the performance venue is set to commence in early 2022, with handover to the operator in 2024.

Commenting on the support shown for the performance venue by the city’s business and cultural leaders, Oliver Quarmby, managing director of St James Securities, said:

“From the roll call of support Derby’s new performance venue has received from the city’s key stakeholders, the business community, and the public, it’s clear just how important the performance venue is to Derby and the impact it will have.

“The scheme is the centrepiece of the post-covid Derby Economic Recovery Plan and is set to significantly increase Derby’s cultural attraction and the overall profile of the city and get people back into the city centre and spending money.

“Everything is in place now – from the funding to a world class operator.  We’re confident that planning permission will be granted and look forward to moving on to the next phase.”

A consultation event staged in the summer revealed that 93% of respondents believe that Derby needs a new concert and entertainment centre. 91% agree that it will benefit other city centre businesses and 85% agree the city needs a new conference and exhibition venue.

80% of respondents would like to see music concerts, 51% comedy, 43% theatre, 27% exhibitions and 21% musicals.

Work on phase one of the scheme is currently underway, with the construction of 259 one and two-bedroom apartments on the site of the former Debenhams store on Victoria Street, which will be funded, acquired, and operated by Grainger plc, market leaders in the UK build to rent and private rented sector – and new public square, with completion scheduled for Spring 2023.